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Harleys, Mercs, BMWs... it's been prime splurging time

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Premium cars and motorcycles have hit a sweet spot over the past few days, with consumers using Diwali as a good reason to splurge on these.

Bookings for US-made Harley-Davidson cruiser bikes, expensive luxury and sports sedans from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Porsche have hit the roof, with some dealerships experiencing shortfall in vehicle supplies.

With the capital markets trading close to all-time highs and adequate availability of funding options and continued improved buying sentiment, high-end consumers were reluctant to hold back their purchase any longer, stated an executive of a luxury car maker.

Although many such companies weren’t able to provide absolute sales figures for the period, stating they were still in the process of collecting the sales data, several of their dealerships reported all-time high sales.

Mohan Mariwala, managing director, Auto Hangar (a Mercedes-Benz dealer), said: “Our sales rose over 70 per cent this Diwali at 108 units, as compared to last year’s Diwali. In fact, we would have bettered this had supply of cars matched the demand.”

Further, sales of the entire western region of the country for Mercedes has been higher in the reporting period than the traditional northern market which is also the main market for the German car maker, according to Mariwala.

The festive cheer has also boosted Harley-Davidson’s prospects of achieving sales of 250 units before the end of next month. While the company’s Mumbai dealership has logged a ‘considerable’ jump in bookings, its Bangalore unit which is yet to open a showroom has reported a significant rise in bookings.

Arjun Bafna, managing director, Seven Islands (Harley dealership), said: “We have witnessed a tremendous jump in the interest for our bikes, which has gone beyond our calculations. The average buying price for the range has been Rs 13-14 lakh.”

ICICI bank is offering loans for Harley-Davidson bikes at an interest rate of around 11 per cent. Harley-Davidson, which is wasting no time in setting up an assembly unit for some of its models after witnessing the huge demand, sells cruiser bikes in the range of Rs 6.95-34.95 lakh.

Sales of another German auto giant, Bayerische Motoren Werke, better known as BMW, which beat Mercedes last year to become the largest luxury car company in India, has also reported a big rise in sales for the period. An executive from its south Mumbai outlet said the dealership sold 101 units during the period, a growth of over 20 per cent, with the top selling model being the 5-series.

Demand for newly launched products such as the new Cayenne from Porsche, the new 5-Series from BMW and the E-Class Coupe from Mercedes has been much higher than earlier expected.

Ashish Chordia, director, Porsche India, said, “Festive purchases are mostly impulse buys and work well for manufacturers who stock cars. However, this festive season, Dussehra to Diwali, order intake has indeed been very positive for us, due to the recent launch of our new Cayenne models. We have had over 25 orders in the past three weeks.”