NANNING/MUMBAI: Both Fiat Chrysler and BMW have revealed plans to expand in Asia – in India and China respectively – but the German automaker, in particular, has adopted a novel approach to winning over new customers.
BMW has established an "Open Course" at one of its dealerships in the "tier three" city of Nanning, capital of the relatively remote Guangxi province, where prospective first-time buyers are taken through an hour-long interactive session that often involves the participation of an expert.
The initiative forms part of the company's broader strategy to turn its attention to smaller cities to build up awareness and a network of car dealerships, the Financial Times reported.
"Many of [our sales] are in cities that didn't have a car dealership until recently," said Ian Robertson, a member of BMW's management board. "We're into the majority of third-tier cities and pushing into fourth-tier cities. We're talking cities of over 1m people."
BMW's Nanning dealership sold 2,000 cars last year and expects to increase sales by 25% in 2014 on the back of a booming Chinese market.
For example, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported on Monday that sales of passenger sedans and sport utility vehicles rose more than 11% in January and February compared to the same period last year.
Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler said it planned to expand its presence in India with the launch of four new models – the new-look Linea, Abarth 500, New Punto and Avventura.
The Linea model has been launched already and the other three are scheduled for release later this year and the new range will be supported by Fiat's strategy of focusing on its dealership network and customer service, the Business Standard reported.
"We have a strong line-up of cars this year that expands the product portfolio and shows our commitment to growth in India," said Nagesh Basavanhalli, president and managing director of Fiat Chrysler India operations.
"India is one of the important strategic markets for the Fiat Chrysler group and we have already shown our commitment by opening 100 plus dealerships across the country in a span of just over one year," he added.
Data sourced from Financial Times, Business Standard; additional content by Warc staff