Interview with Martina Biene, Head of Product Line (Small), Volkswagen AG

By autoX Editorial | on July 24, 2022

With the MQB A0 IN-based products picking up popularity and sales in India, we speak to Martina Biene, Head of Product Line (Small) at Volkswagen Group about localising the platform for India and more.

The products based on the MQB A0 platform are doing quite well in India. What kind of feedback are you seeing from customers and your dealer partners?

The feedback has been exceedingly positive – I did some dealer visits to get some first-hand knowledge – and with the success of the Taigun and other products, it’s been a good move and a very good next step towards what we, as a brand, want to achieve in India and get more success with the latest technology and platforms. Also, I think the ramp-up towards the launch of the Virtus sedan has gone quite well.

How difficult was it to customise the MQB A0 platform for the Indian market and our tough conditions?

I would say it was not too difficult, because the MQB A0 is a global platform which is based on the MQB 27 platform that we use in Europe. And when we started working on the development of MQB 27, right at the development phase, it was always clear that MQB-A0 is already such a massive segment globally – not just in Europe – that the A0 would have to eventually be used as a global platform. So, right from the start, our thinking was that we should be designing the A0 platform in a way that it can be used in Europe, Latin America, India and China. This was the thought in our mind and when you start to develop a platform that is designed to fulfil the needs of global markets, it’s not too difficult to adapt it to a market like India. It only becomes difficult if we design a platform for only one market – say Europe – and then try to adapt it to other markets. Which was not the case with the MQB A0.

The real difficulty comes when you need to localise parts for the platform because that is essential to making the product cost competitive. And, of course, you need to adapt to market demands and conditions, such as in India we had to focus specifically on ground clearance, safety and other factors. For instance, the Virtus comes with ventilated seats, and this is something that is India-specific and done specifically to meet market demands.

Can we expect more India-specific products on the MQB A0 platform?

So, the MQB A0 is capable of producing more products, as you can see in Latin American markets, our product portfolio has products like the T-Cross or the Nivus, which was actually created in Brazil and then also sold in Europe. I’m not too sure that Nivus is a product that’s suited to India. Looking at the platform, yes there are more products possible, and we also do plan to continue using this platform, but I’m not sure right now what could be the next product that we could bring to India based on the MQB A0 platform.

The Polo established VW in India and still has a loyal fanbase in India. Could we see a Polo based on the A0 platform?

We do have the Polo, but unfortunately for India, the Polo has grown in size and is now no longer under the 4-metre length that gives us access to favourable taxation policies in the Indian market, and thus we can’t make a business case for it. Also, because the proportions of the new Polo are so optimal, we can’t find options to make the car shorter. We know that Polo is a much-loved brand in India, so we continue to evaluate how we can make a viable business case for it, but as of now, we have not found a solution.

Read more:

Interview with Ashish Gupta, Brand Director, Volkswagen India

Volkswagen Taigun Long-Term Reports

Tags: Volkswagen Volkswagen Polo

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