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India takes pole position in luxury car buys worldwide
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Car buyers the world over may be going green out of concern for the environment, but Indians would much rather have their neighbours turn green with envy.

A new global study by research firm Synovate shows that India tops the list of countries where dream cars are more popular than green cars. The report, which surveyed more than 13,500 people in 18 markets on the green vs dream issue found 47% Indians voting for luxury vehicles, with just 30% choosing environment friendly cars. Only South Africa was higher, with 53% respondents preferring dream cars over 22% for green vehicles.

“India is going through an evolving phase where we haven’t seen a whole lot of luxury cars till very recently. People here are ambitious and continue to be aspirational. That makes India a very different market from Europe, which is going in for smaller and greener vehicles,” says Sumit Arora, associate director at Synovate.

Also helping the luxury car market in India is the fact that unlike in the west, which is in the midst of a deep recession, the country’s economy continues to grow. Part of India’s fascination for luxury cars is the fact that these brands have only recently entered the market. Sales trends for luxury cars in India have held up compared with even mass market models, and are indeed much better than in the rest of the world.


This love affair with luxury cars also explains why several top car brands are flocking to the country even though the current market is at just around 6,000-7 ,000 units. Mercedes Benz and BMW have assembly operations in India, while Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Porsche, Audi, Bentley and Jaguar and Land Rover sell all-imported vehicles. Italian car maker Fiat has already indicated it will introduce its Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands in India.

In any case, premium car makers say luxury and green were not necessarily mutually exclusive. “All the engines we bring to India have the latest technology. Our carbon dioxide emissions are the lowest in the luxury car segment. So big need not mean ‘not green’,” said Peter Kronschnabl, president for BMW India.

Meanwhile, the world over, Synovate’s survey showed the verdict clearly in favour of green technologies, led by Germany, where nearly 60% respondents voted for eco-friendly vehicles. Across Asia too, the mood was decidedly in favour of green cars, with 53% of respondents in that country choosing green compared with 21% for luxury.

In Thailand and South Korea, green scored 77% and 76% respectively. Overall, 37% of all respondents globally said green cars were their choice, with another 22% clarified that their dream car was also a green car. In the US, the world’s biggest market for luxury cars, some 35% of the respondents voted for luxury vehicles while 23% for green wheels.

India also stood out as a market where respondents said they would buy a new car
in the next one year. Compared with a global average of 15%, 38% of Indians said yes when queried about the chances of buying a new car in 12 months. This was followed by 24% for Egypt and 23% in Turkey. By contrast, just 6% of respondents in Germany and Australia indicated plans to buy a new.

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