“We promised a safe car with a world-class build quality and a fun to drive experience” says Volkswagen India brand director Ashish Gupta on the VW Taigun
The Volkswagen Taigun has completed a year of being on sale in India and the SUVW has been a resounding success. Right from the first time we drove the Taigun, we attested that the SUV was the Thrill of Driving benchmark in its segment, and the popularity of the mid-size SUV has reflected in the sales figures as well. “We have had more than 45,000 bookings for the Taigun alone. We have delivered around 28,000 so definitely 17,000 cars that we could have delivered. But with the supply chain constraints that we had, still a satisfying performance.” says Volkswagen India brand director Ashish Gupta when asked about the Taigun’s sales figures being on par with the brand’s expectations. “In terms of expectations from the product portfolio, from how we wanted to transform the brand, the kind of language and attitude that we wanted to reflect, I think I am truly satisfied,” Ashish adds.
Safety is a hot talking point that is influencing car buying decisions and Ashish mentions that “As a brand we have always espoused safety”, adding on to that by saying “One of the main reasons that customers buy into the Volkswagen brand is because of the safety DNA of this brand.” The one-year anniversary of the Taigun also happened to coincide with the GNCAP crash test ratings of the made-in-India SUV, with the Taigun (and its cousin, the Skoda Kushaq, both underpinned by the MQB-A0-IN platform) scoring a full five stars, making it one of the safest cars on sale in India today.
Ashish also talks about the popularity of the Taigun with the 1.5-litre TSI engine amongst enthusiasts, mentioning that every fourth Taigun to be sold in India is a 1.5 GT. He states that during the launch of the SUV they had only planned for 15 per cent of the demand to be for the 1.5 TSI, with the 1.0 TSI expected to be the volume driver with its more competitive pricing. “Progressively we have taken it up to 25 per cent and today as we stand, the Taigun 1.5 is easily available. You do not have a long waiting list. From October to December we have made sure we have sufficient supplies of the Taigun available to meet customer demand,” Ashish says. Localisation levels on the Taigun were at 95 per cent when launched but that was primarily with respect to the 1-litre TSI engine. With greater volumes for the 1.5, Ashish says, “If we have to make a business case and continue to make a business case for our cars in India, localisation is the way to go.”
When asked whether the Taigun had found a sweet spot in terms of positioning in the Indian market, the VW India brand director said, "I would like to believe so. We promised a safe car with a world-class build quality and a fun to drive experience, we have been delivering on those promises, and that’s what differentiates us from the rest in the market. If you look at customers speaking on the Taigun, these are exactly the things they talk about. So customers find a lot of resonance in what the brand-speak is and what they are experiencing, and that builds a lot of confidence in the brand.”
As a part of the Taigun’s first anniversary of being on sale in India, Volkswagen also introduced a 1st Anniversary Edition of the SUV with cosmetic changes including a new Rising Blue paint scheme and graphics on the C-pillar, and Ashish also mentioned that there will be new mixes in the model and variant lineup in the near future, such as the 1.5-litre manual Taigun with more equipment. “We also learnt along the way that customers do not expect or do not accept anything less than the best from Volkswagen, right? So definitely we are also working on getting a 1.5 GT manual based on the GT Plus. So similar features as the GT Plus, but with a manual transmission.” These models however are still in the works and can only be expected by Q2 of 2023.
When asked about the possibility of network expansion, Ashish states that, “With the kind of volume we’re looking at, we’re looking at around 60,000 cars a year, with these two products (the Taigun and the Virtus) and the Tiguan in our portfolio now. And for that, a sales network of around 150 touchpoints is what we targeted, in the right market. But you have to continuously keep scanning the landscape. The growth in the Indian market is coming from Tier 1 and Tier 2 towns. So if there are demand pockets coming up we will surely expand there.” The carmaker has also been focusing heavily on the TCO or total cost of ownership of their products in India, and Ashish reaffirms that these are long-term efforts, intended to bolster the brand’s success in India.