With brands such as Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche and Škoda (to name a few) under its marquee, the Volkswagen group is already a leviathan in the automobile industry. Only a few years ago, it overtook Toyota to become the largest automaker in the world in terms of sales and it doesn’t seem like the group has any thoughts of slowing down any time in the near future either.
With a view of increasing its market share in the subcontinent, Volkswagen AG has planned to introduce 4 SUVs in India in the next couple of years, with the first among them expected to hit the roads by mid next year. These include the 7-seater Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, which will replace the existing 5-seater Tiguan short-wheelbase model in the country. Apart from being a good 215mm longer than its sibling, the Allspace also has more legroom and a much larger bootspace. It will also offer more engine options (all of them being BS6 compliant), including 2 turbocharged petrol ones.
The other SUV with the Volkswagen name is going to be a heavily modified version of the T-Cross, called the Volkswagen T-Roc and it will be brought in as a Completely Built Unit (CBU). The T-Roc will be a compact mid-sized SUV, allowing the brand to make inroads into this sector and yet is expected to pack enough power to rival much larger SUVs. Apart from these two, one SUV from Škoda and another from Audi, both part of the Volkswagen group, are all set to make their presence felt in the Indian markets. The Škoda Karoq and the 2nd-gen Audi Q3, along with the Tiguan Allspace and the T-Roc, will all be making their grand exhibit at the Auto Expo 2020 in the NCR next year. The all-electric Audi e-tron and the luxurious Audi Q8 are also expected to release soon, probably next year as well.
With a target of acquiring at least 3 percent of the total market share in the Indian automotive sector over the next two years, the group has planned massive investments in the country (the investment for last year was about ₹8000 crore), including the setting up of a much larger R&D centre in Pune. Even with the new SUVs coming in, the group plans to continue with its existing models as well. The BS6 rules are all set to be implemented in the country and as a result, the group will stop production of all BS4 vehicles by the end of this year. However, this also means a slight hike in costs for both petrol and diesel vehicles, which in turn, will impact sales as well.
As for the R&D centre in Pune, Steffen Knapp (Director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars) has said that the group plans to have about 5000 engineers at the centre soon, working towards design requirements both at the global and the local level, the current strength being around 650. The group is also looking to change the perception of its cars being costly, with innovative schemes such reducing the cost of spare parts and bringing down the overall cost of ownership with a 4-year warranty plan. Given the current situation of the Indian automotive market, this infusion of new blood is certainly a welcome step.