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Luxury auto brands hit the road in India

News, 08 August 2016
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NEW DELHI: Luxury auto brands in India are experimenting with mobile showrooms and pop-up stores as they seek to reach potential buyers in cities where they don't have a physical showroom.

Leading Indian auto brands such as Tata and Maruti, each have around 3,000 dealerships across the country, while luxury brands may have fewer than 100.

So Audi, intends to repeat 2015's foray into this area, which saw it take its "mobile terminal" – essentially a mobile showroom designed to provide a full Audi experience – to a number of lower tier cities, including Kota, Ambala, Hisar, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Meerut, Aligarh, Agra and Amritsar.

This year Siliguri, Jamshedpur and Patna are among 20 cities the mobile terminal will be visiting. "This brings the showroom to the customer's doorstep, especially in Tier-II and Tier-III cities, where the brand has received a huge positive response," Joe King, head of Audi India, told the Business Standard.

In addition to displaying the cars and accessories, customers can book test drives and connect with Audi dealers for enquiries, new bookings and after-sales support.

Mercedes-Benz, another German marque and the leading player in the luxury market, is taking this idea a stage further, with a pop-up store that is to all intents and purposes a complete showroom. "We want to reach out in a serious way," said Roland Folger, managing director at Mercedes-Benz India.

"We do not wish to only go there [places with no dealership] with a truck and show vehicles but to set up a temporary showroom, to expose people in the area to the benefits of owning a Mercedes," he explained.

The intention is that the collapsible structure will be set up in a tier three city for seven to ten days before moving on; Mercedes-Benz plans on visiting a total of six cities this year.

"Some of the people in these cities will for the first time have a feel of what a Mercedes showroom looks like", said Folger. "It will be a brand experience for them."

Renault, not a luxury brand but with a similarly limited number of physical dealerships, has reported success with a virtual showroom and an app that allow consumers to experience a vehicle and order it without ever having seen the car in the flesh.

Data sourced from Business Standard; additional content by Warc staff

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