German luxury car maker Audi plans to introduce three new models in India this year.

Besides launching the Q8, A8 and R8, it will also, in a few months, decide on models to be introduced under a recent government of India regulation permitting import and sale of up to 2,500 units of cars without going through the process of homologation in the country.

In a media interaction at the opening of a new 12,000 sq ft showroom in Madhapur on Thursday, Audi India Head Rahil Ansari said the three new models to be launched are niche.

“If you look at it from a brand perspective… they exactly show what Audi stands for,” he said.

The company, however, expected the overall growth to be muted in the year 2019 as the products it has lined up are high-end. Last year, Audi sold 6,463 cars in India, where the market for luxury cars is 40,000 units a year.

The customer sentiment is already a bit hesitant in the wake of financial market developments and in view of the ensuing general elections. It is expected to improve only after the elections, he said. Q2 could be one model, he cited as an example, to be introduced by Audi under the homologation-free regulation introduced by the Centre in September. As per the new norm, automotive companies could import and market right hand steering control cars, up to 2500 units, based on the international certification received, namely namely EEC or ECE or Japanese.

“That means you can also bring in cars just to test waters and market acceptance,” he said, pointing out if the customer response is good Audi may consider assembling them locally. At present, 90% of its sale volume in India is assembled at the facility in Aurangabad.

Noting that Audi was likely to introduce its first electric car e-tron, whose range is more than 400 km, in 2020, Mr.Ansari said the high taxes on luxury cars came in the way of their sales. A reduction in the levy – GST is 28% and cess 15-22% – would mean more sales, increase in tax revenue and facilitate more investments and create more jobs.

The 12,000 sq ft showroom was inaugurated by Mr. Ansari and Rajiv Sanghvi, Managing Director, Audi Hyderabad.

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