In Conversation with Dr Andreas Schaaf, head honcho of BMW India
Kaustubh Shinde, They say sooner or later your passion finds you. Sometime in late 2009, I started writing for IAB and ever since then it has been a roller coaster ride for me. An amazing experience that has taught me a lot, taken me to new places, driven some great cars and met some amazing people. When you don't find me on IAB (very rarely), you will find me either at a coffee shop or an eatery or at the nearest gadget store. Hope you enjoy IAB as much as we do!
On the 10th of May, BMW-India held a unique press conference in Delhi to showcase its Vision Efficient Dynamics Concept (VED) to the Indian Masses. The VED is BMW’s idea of the future of BMW cars. This is the same car that was spotted on the streets of Mumbai for the shooting of MI4.
The VED is a result of clean sheet development from BMW that focuses of efficiency, driving pleasure, technology, and emotional design. It is a flight of imagination as to what is the future of BMW will be like. Envisioned as a 2+2-seater, the VED is powered by a 3-cylinder turbodiesel engine with an electric motor on each axle. Overall system output is 356 horsepower, and peak torque is 590 lb-ft.
The event was presided over by the Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel who admired the design and fuel efficiency of the VED. He accepted the fact that a car like the VED is very incompatible for the Indian Roads. However, he assured that within 2-3 years, the Indian Road network will be robust and potholes-free as the Indian government has a comprehensive road development plan in place (I hope this isn't just lip service).
IAB also had a nice chat with Dr Andreas Schaaf, the head honcho of BMW India and clarified a few doubts about the future of BMW India. Here are the outcomes:
How has the CKD Operations affected BMW India?
Dr Schaaf said that the company is fulfilling all the new requirements of the CKD policy and there will no price hike as of right now. The company has started manufacturing 50% of its engine requirements as a result it only pays 10% tax for imported engine parts. However, there was a bit of resentment because of the way the policy was implemented. The car makers should have been given more time to adapt to the changes.
What are the future Production plans?
Dr Schaaf said, “In future, BMW wants to start a full fledged manufacturing plant in India. The current CKD operations cannot be sustained for a longer period of time. CKD is just a way to create an entry point in the market. Once the demand is sustainable, we would like to manufacture everything from India itself.”
Do you intend to bring uber premium cars such as 1 series and Mini?
Dr Schaaf believes that the Market is not yet ready for such cars. In India, people still associate price with the size of the car. The bigger the car, the higher must be the price. The Mini and the 1 series are exactly the opposite of that philosophy. They are small cars with higher price tag. But if and when the market conditions are right, BMW will definitely lead the way.
What are your expansion plans?
BMW India plans to have 40 dealerships all across India but the end of 2012. They will definitely look forward to tier 1 and tier 2 cities to fuel the growth in the future.
Overall, the event was a resounding success. But if there is one thing that is biting our heads is the new Design philosophy adopted by BMW. The previous BMW cars were very ‘Love it or Hate it’ affair. There was nothing in between the two poles. The VED is an excellent case in point. You look at the car and you can’t help it but just ogle at it for hours. So BMW certainly has the wherewithal to make a car look exciting before you even start the engine.
The new BMWs don’t have that same character. You don’t feel like ogling them with your nose pressed against the showroom window. They are not the outlandish designs like the old 5 series and 6 series. They have overtones of consumer likes and are toned down as a result.
So if BMW really want to get back to its roots, forget the hybrid technology and environment saving malarkey, just make a car that looks like the VED.