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Why James Bond stunt car hopes to see more action on Indian roads


Aston Martin has become synonymous with James Bond films. In those films, the gadget-laden car, customised for James Bond, had inbuilt machine guns, ejector seats and revolving number plates. It could also fly or turn into a boat. It was as smart as the British spy with a Licence to Kill.

The company made famous by Bond movies hopes to see more action in India’s growing luxury market. Aston Martin, which sold around 6,400 cars last year with a handful in India, wants to grow its presence in the country when it comes to retail as well as its model line-up. It is even looking to launch its electric vehicle here which comes into the market in 2025, Gregory Adams, Asia president of Aston Martin, told TOI, as he introduced the DB12 coupe priced at Rs 4.6 crore (ex-showroom Delhi) last week.

The company currently sells 10-15 units in the Indian market a year. It will be renewing its sports car line up and would also bring in hybrid supercar Valhalla and SUVs into the market, Adams added.

Why the James Bond car loves India

As the developed countries grapple with economic pressures. Aston Martin sees the Indian market as happening and hopes to sell more cars to Indians who are growing richer and don’t hesitate to spend on super luxury brands.

The increased focus on India comes at a time when its economy is projected to grow at a healthy pace even as several advanced economies including the US, Germany and the UK are beset with recessionary risks. Just as India has become an outlier by clocking high economic growth rates, the number of the rich is also growing in the country.India’s billionaire population rose to 161 in 2022 from 145 in the previous year and is estimated to rise to 195 individuals by 2027, according to a Knight Frank study. The number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals in India, having net worth of over $30 million, fell 7.5 per cent last year to 12,069 but will rise to 19,119 in the next five years, growing by more than 58 per cent The Indian high-net-worth individual (HNI) population, with asset value of USD 1 million and more, increased to 7,97,714 last year from 7,63,674 in 2021. The number of HNIs will rise to 16,57,272 by 2027.

Among these rich Indians, Aston Martin sees a large number of potential customers.

Why is India’s super luxury car market growing?

India’s luxury car market is led by Italian super sports carmaker Lamborghini. Aston Martin is another carmaker on the list along with Ferrari, Bentley, Porsche and Maybach. All these luxury wheels have been in great demand since the end of post-pandemic restrictions.

Despite a slowdown in growth across the globe and rising worries of recession, the demand for luxury cars in India continued to grow at a tremendous pace.
Last year saw the highest-ever growth for such ultra-luxury cars in India (with a minimum price tag of Rs 2 crore and more) as sales grew by 50% in 2022, breaking the previous record, which was achieved in 2018, reported TOI.

Sharad Agarwal, India head of Lamborghini, which sells cars costing more than Rs 4 crore, had told TOI last year that buyers have moved forward and taken steps to fulfil “their dreams and aspirations” post-Covid, in contrast to the previous practise of being cautious when it came to indulgence. “The market for super-luxury cars is expected to close this year at 450 units, against 300 sold in 2021. This will also surpass the previous high of 325 units sold in 2018,” Agrawal added. “Rich and young Indians are exposed to what is being launched globally and want to drive the same cars here. This has also seen us introduce our latest cars almost in line with their global debut.”

“The demand for luxury cars is unprecedented, and has gone through the roof post-pandemic,” TOI quoted Yadur Kapur, CEO of Select Cars, as saying. Kapur’s company retails luxury brands such as Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, Lamborghini, BMW and, of course, Aston Martin. “Post-Covid, everyone wants to enjoy life. Covid gave many a rude shock, and now people want to live rich, rather than die rich.” “We have noticed this trend,” he added.

Satya Bagla, MD of Exclusive Motors, which sells Bentley in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad, told TOI that post-Covid people want to “reward themselves with material things” rather than just save money. “Earlier, not indulging was seen as a cool factor. But not anymore. Now people say why not. This can be seen as people are indulging in expensive holidays, private jets, super-luxury cars and expensive watches.”

Overall luxury car market is hot too

In keeping with many other sectors of the economy where high-priced goods are selling like hot cakes, sales of luxury vehicles in India grew in the strong double-digits in the first six months of the current year, outpacing the overall automotive industry and also reaffirming India’s credentials as the fastest-growing major economy in the world.

According to industry estimates, about 20,000 luxury vehicles were sold between January and June – a 38% jump over 14,500 units sold in the same period a year ago. Strong consumer demand, especially at the top end of the market, and healthy order books across manufacturers will help sustain momentum through the year and push overall volumes past the pre-pandemic peak of 40,000 units in 2018, senior industry executives had told ET. Meanwhile, overall passenger vehicle sales rose by about 10%, four times lower than those of luxury vehicles, to over 2 million units in the first half of 2023.

High taxes a drag on super luxury cars

High taxes on super luxury cars jack up prices, taking them beyond the reach of a large number of India’s rich people. At present, India levies a GST rate of 28% on automobiles, with additional cess ranging between 1-22%, depending on the type of vehicle. Fully imported cars attract customs duty of 60-100% based on the size of the engine and cost, insurance and freight (CIF) being less or more than $40,000.

High taxes on automobiles in the Indian market are limiting sales of super-luxury cars despite the country being home to the third largest number of billionaires globally, Global CEO & chairman, Automobili Lamborghini, Stephan Winklemann had told ET last year. Winklemann, however, said the challenge is not one faced by the luxury car industry alone, but is restricting the growth of the entire automobile market in the country. “This is not only a luxury car issue. If we look at the population, compare this with the number of cars sold in India and if you compare this with other countries, it is clear. The car market (here) is smaller compared to population, when it comes into comparison with markets like the United States, China or the European Union.”


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