The iconic Volkswagen Beetle has caught the imagination of well-heeled Indians who do not mind forking out a fortune to buy the bug. After all, it has a steep price tag of Rs 20.45 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). One could buy a Merc or the sporty BMW by throwing in few more lakhs.
Despite that, the company has sold 284 units of the New Beetle in less than five months of its launch. In April, alone it sold 92 cars. If that is not enough, this iconic model has a waiting list of two-three months, as it is being imported from the Volkswagen plant in Mexico and sold as a completely-built unit. The company says the Beetle is being lapped up by businessmen and Bollywood celebrities, who want to show off their new toy.
Buoyed by the success, Volkswagen India hopes the demand for Beetle would go up even more. “The Beetle is a much loved car in India and our intent to introduce it was to cater to our customer demand. Consequently, we expect a decent increase of sales of the New Beetle over a period of time,” said Neeraj Garg, director (passenger cars), Volkswagen India.
According to him, the response has been phenomenal as it has a huge fan following. “The product is positioned for discerning Indian customers to meet their intrinsic wish for a style statement and uniqueness. We are confident it will be well appreciated for its value offered to customers,” he added.
Said Abdul Majeed, leader, automotive practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers India: “While there is no dearth of cash-rich people in India, the introduction of Beetle has proved there is a huge potential for such high-end brands in the country, especially in markets like Punjab, where the rich farmers have deep pockets to splurge on such luxurious possessions.”
The shipment of Beetle takes a month. With demand being more than anticipated, the New Beetle has a huge waiting period. “Each Volkswagen dealer gets one or two bookings a month for Beetle. It has led to a waiting period of at least two months, which is higher than what we anticipated at the time of launch of the vehicle last year,” said a Volkswagen dealer in Delhi.
Currently, Volkswagen India has about 45 dealers across the country selling Polo, Jetta, Passat, Beetle, Touareg and Phaeton.
The New Beetle was launched in India in the first week of December, with an advance booking of 150 units. It is powered by a four-cylinder 2000cc petrol engine with six-speed automatic transmission. Even BMW has been contemplating of bringing in the Mini which is their specially designed small car and would have been priced at a similar level. However, plans were shelved due to recession.