GURGAON: BMW sales in India have grown by 43% in the first eight months of this year, despite the fact the luxury carmaker is a late entrant to the market.

The surge in sales is one of the main drivers of the 12.5% growth enjoyed by BMW globally over the same period.

Andreas Schaaf, president of BMW India, said: "India may not be a large market in terms of units sold, but it remains the strongest potential market globally and will outgrow all other markets in future."

BMW chose to launch the most luxurious of its vehicles, the Rolls Royce, in India.

This is a surprise move, considering the local preference for compact cars and the fact that BMW also owns Mini.

Mr Schaaf said: "Despite Mini's quintessential brand heritage, we have not gone the [Volkswagen] way when it introduced the Beetle just to leverage on the brand.

"We are looking at building a critical mass. India may not be ready for a luxury small car like Mini now."

The decision to focus on the handmade Rolls Royce appears justified, with all models completely sold out for this year and allocations for 2011 also exhausted.

"Our basic ideology of making cars that are both practical and contemporary for customers has worked in our favour," Schaaf added.

BMW's global reputation as a pioneer in technology has been a major contributor in developing the Indian market.

Schaaf also cited a general trend towards mobility and fuel efficiency, with future sales in markets such as Russia, China and India depending on carmakers' increased environmental credentials.

But not all BMW's state of the art technologies are transferable to India.

The run-flat tyre (RFT) which is standard in all models has not coped well with India's challenging road surfaces.

Despite a rising number of complaints from Indian customers and the tubeless radials of competitors, Schaaf said that "RFT is best for our high-speed cars.

"It's a fitment on all our BMW cars globally."

The next step for BMW India, in an attempt to meet the ever intensifying demand for new models, will be to launch the X-1 SUV.

Data Sourced from The Economic Times; additional content by WARC staff.