Bollywood stars drive Audi sales in India

With clients like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Bipasha Basu, German luxury car maker Audi has a vital target market in
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Mumbai-based film stars and is looking at a 50 per cent growth in India this year.

"Quite a few Bollywood stars have picked up Audi cars in India. Whether it is Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Amitabh Bachchan or Katrina Kaif - each of them has one Audi parked in their garage," Martin Birkner, marketing head of Audi in India, said.

"I won't say they make a major market for us, but they certainly are an important market for Audi, at least in Mumbai."

According to Birkner, Salman is the latest to buy the car - he bought an Audi A8, while Neil Nitin Mukesh owns Q7, a recently launched SUV by Audi. A Q7 can cost anything from Rs 63 laks to Rs 76 lakhs. An Audi A8 ranges from Rs 71 lakhs to Rs 1 crore in India.

Among actresses, Bipasha pampered herself with the luxury vehicle, he said.

The company currently offers a bouquet of seven cars, including sedans, SUVs, coupe and sports cars. It is considering launching more models in the coming years.

"In 2008, we sold 1,050 cars in India and we have a revised target of 1,600 cars by the end of 2009. We have had considerable growth since last year, so we are projecting a nearly 50 per cent growth this time," he said.

He said Asia is fast emerging as a strong customer base for the company but still has time to get used to premium and luxury cars.

"We are the segment leaders in Europe and our sales there are currently stagnating. But we see that the Asian region is still not fully developed in the sense that even though there is a huge amount of cars here, not many people go for luxury or premium cars," said Birkner.