At a time when Audi’s sales have been in a downward spiral, Balbir Singh Dhillon, an industry veteran who has spent nearly 12 years in the Volkswagen group, will take charge of the company.
Dhillon replaces current head German-born Rahil Ansari, who is moving to the group’s global headquarters in Germany, nearly six months ahead of the usually-stipulated three-year term. Dhillon is currently the head of dealer development of Audi in India.
Speaking to an English media daily, Dhillon stated, “Times are challenging in India, but I am confident that we will manage to turn around the business over the coming years as new models come in and buyer confidence improves.”
Dhillon’s appointment comes when Audi sales in the country have declined from over 11,000 units in 2015 to less than 6,500 last year. The luxury automaker had started operations in India in 2007 and managed to grab the pole position in the luxury car market ahead of rivals BMW and Mercedes in 2015. But the company’s sales started slipping and it closed last year with 6,463 units.
Audi feels a change at the top helm and the introduction of new models will lead to a revival of business. It plans to launch A6 and A8 sedans, Q8 SUV, and e-Tron electric. The non-electric cars will come only with petrol versions, in tandem with the government’s focus to push clean mobility.
However as the market still remains challenging as slower economy, credit squeeze, and high taxation on luxury vehicles keep customers away, the turnaround in Audi’s business, might take anywhere between 18 and 24 months.
Dhillon comes with over 23 years of experience with automotive OEM businesses. It will be interesting to see how he steers the luxury automaker to a pole position in a challenging market.