Ludhiana/Chandigarh, Nov.27 : Having been hit hard by global slowdown, the automobile industry is on the lookout for new and lucrative markets to survive the existing crisis. Today, the focus appears to be on tapping markets like Punjab, as people here are inclined to buy new cars frequently.
Punjab is today viewed as a 'hot market' for cars from the sales point of view by the marketing gurus, especially in the luxury segment.
The U.S. auto industry is faced by a situation where it looks standing on the brink of disaster.
The large industrial growth coupled with the partiality to spending on machines, has given a push to the premium car segment in Punjab.
Recently, the Ford company launched New Ford Ikon in Chandigarh in view of the growing potential in Punjab for cars.
Nigel E.Wark, the Executive Director of Ford India, said: "The real strength here is that there is passion for motor vehicles. People travelling long distance look for latest features in their vehicle in terms of safety, security and drive ability. For such people, this is absolutely right product. I think we are going to have very strong market share for our new Ikon Ford here."
Punjab is turning into a luxury car haven as BMW, Skoda, Audia, Volvos and Mercedes find space in the hearts and garages of the State.
Despite slowdown, people here are willing to spend money for their dream machines. Manjeet Singh Bala, a dealer of Mercedez Benz, said: "Growth in the real estate, boom in business and good agricultural produce; keeping all this in mind there has been an optimistic response in the market. So the Mercedes market has also come up."
As a majority of Punjabis buy cars with cash, and do not depend on bank loans, the car market remains stable in Punjab. Also, with rising incomes, the market for luxury cars has been growing at an average of about 25 per cent.
"The people here are having enough money to buy cars. They like to have latest models and technologies available in the market. Most of the luxury cars are sold here in Punjab only. Seeing this trend companies are launching their products here. People in Punjab have enough money and as well as style," said S.S.Sarkaria, one car buyer.
Despite the crisis, the small car segment has achieved 15 per cent growth in Ludhiana city alone. Maruti - which sold 3,950 cars in 2007, has sold 4,544 cars 2008, which is up 20 per cent.
Mercedes Benz is also expecting to achieve its target of 490 in comparison to the sales of 455 cars in 2007.
It is believed that a positive inclination' among buyers will help the automobile industry overcome the crisis. And the state of Punjab, where people want to drive in 'luxury', will continue to attract players in the automobile sector. By Karan Kapoor/ Sunil Sharma