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Old 15th July 2019, 12:28   #1
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Default Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

This thread has been jointly compiled with GTO!

Why are supercar sales in India woefully low when compared to the size of the market? India is now a top 4 car market in the world. We have a 3 million cars / year industry! And the number of crorepatis has also climbed. According to a recent report from the Income Tax department, 6,000+ Indians had a gross income of over Rs 5 crore in India (81,000 had a gross total income of Rs 1 crore). Going by the number of Indians who under-report their income, it is safe to assume that the actual number of folk earning 5+ crores is far, far higher.

So, the market is there & the crorepatis are there. Donít you think anyone who can pay over 2 crores for a Maybach S-Class or Range Rover Vogue can afford a sports car? They sure can. But supercar sales hardly account for anything here. Ferrari sells merely 20 Ė 25 cars annually in India, while Lamborghini does about 45. IMHO, even these numbers might be slightly inflated by the manufacturers.

Here are a few reasons I could think of. Please add to the list if you can think of more.

Reason #1 - Love for the backseat
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Truth is, most businessmen & corporate titans simply prefer the backseat luxury of a 7-Series or Rolls Royce rather than the front seat of a supercar. Indian CEOs are "comfort oriented", not "performance oriented". For every petrolhead like Gautam Singhania and Ratan Tata, there are 100 non-car enthusiasts like Azim Premji & Kishore Biyani.

Reason #2 - No parking @ home
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Parking spots in the major metros come at a premium. A parking spot in tony Cuffe Parade @ Mumbai costs well over a crore. Then, even if you are willing to pay, most buildings simply don't have additional parking space to offer! Any rich dude who can afford a supercar already has 3 - 4 cars in the house which use up all his parking spots. Where is he going to park his supercar?

Reason #3 - Where will you park it OUTSIDE?
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Even if you have a parking spot at home, where are you going to park it when you take it out? Impossible, unless it's at a hotel or a high-end restaurant. You canít take a McLaren to a movie like you can take a Porsche Panamera. Some supercar owners actually have bodyguards who ensure nobody messes with their car when it is parked in a public area. Because of this problem with public parking, several supercar owners simply take their cars out for a morning / late night spin and head back home.

Reason #4 - Speed breakers!
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Forget supercars, most of these (especially the toll naka bumps) are a nightmare to cross even with a Jaguar XJ sedan. You can enjoy your supercar on the expressway, but how will you get there? Believe it or not, many supercar owners actually transport their cars to the open road on a flatbed truck! Sigh, what a logistical headache. And God help you if you miss the Indian speciality = an unmarked speed breaker at speed.

Reason #5 - A public magnet
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Supercars and superbikes garner a lot of attention on the road. While some owners love the attention, others don't. Sanjay Dutt once said that he sold his Harley because every time he took it out, all the RX100s wanted to race with him (this was back in the 90s). Over-inquisitive Indian public flock to your car like bees to a hive. The best example for this is when India's first McLaren 720S came out for a spin (picture above).

Reason #6 - Too much attention in your neighbourhood
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If you buy a 2+ crore G-Class or Lexus LX, your friends + family + neighbours will know you're successful. They'll think you bought a "nice luxury car" and that's it. But if you buy an AMG GT in green or an Aventador, your neighbourhood will see you as "stinking rich". People living 4 km away will be talking about your new sports car, as will your relatives from the USA. That can attract all the wrong kind of attention & some businessmen simply aren't comfortable with it.

Reason #7 - Zero Practicality
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With seating for just 2, a bone-jarring ride from the rockhard suspension and laughable luggage space, supercars are weekend toys for most people. Just like superbikes in India, there are many supercars which have a running of just 500 - 1000 km / year. In comparison, a 3+ crore sedan or SUV will be used far more (daily commute to work, holiday home in the mountains etc.). This is precisely why the Cayenne & Panamera account for 90% of Porsche's India sales. Indians value practicality, even when they're spending in crores.

Reason #8 - Where are the roads?
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One of the biggest issues any supercar driver faces is the lack of proper infrastructure. You can count the good roads in your city on your fingertips. Heck, one can't even rev a humble 530d beyond 2nd gear in the city - where will you redline your supercar? It's because of this reason that some Indians own supercars outside the country as well. That said, owners in North & South India are lucky because they have access to race tracks (Buddh circuit and the Madras Motor Race Track).

Reason #9 - Not too many (older) car guys in India
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Most self-made successful personalities are between the age of 40 - 70. How many older petrol-heads do you know? I'm betting, very few (if at all). There was no proper car culture in India back in the day, unlike say in the USA, where todayís grandfathers grew up with 8-cylinder Mustangs, Camaros & Cadillacs. It's the reason why almost all supercars in India are owned by the younger "next generation" who have inherited their wealth.

Reason #10 - Strict Cops
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^ Above image from a speed camera. Believe it or not, this Lamborghini was challan'ed for doing 83 km/h on Marine Drive!! Whether it's the Sealink or the Expressway, cops have cracked down hard on over-speeding. Not to forget, some expressways have ridiculously low 80 km/h speed limits, where a Mahindra Bolero can comfortably do 90 km/h. Now, what are you going to do with your supercar?

Reason #11 - Corporate Image & PR
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If your company's shares have taken a hammering on the stock market, it has just reported a quarterly loss or you've availed of a loan from Punjab National Bank, it'll sure as hell be politically incorrect to buy a flashy yellow Porsche 911 Turbo! Bad PR for the company and the press would have a field day. On the other hand, if you were to get yourself a white 7-Series, no one would bat an eyelid. This holds true for politicians too. A famous politician's son is unable to drive his Lamborghini after the press / public questioned the funds for the supercar.

Reason #12 - Insane Pricing
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The government taxes the hell out of CBUs. As a result, Lamborghinis & Ferraris can cost over 4 - 5 crores on the road. In comparison, a locally-assembled Maybach is priced more fairly (CKDs enjoy a lower tax rate). The wealthy didnít get wealthy by not doing such calculations, or over-paying for their purchases. And frankly, these cheaper + luxurious alternatives (including the Range Rover) are all the car Indiaís rich want.

Reason #13 - Competition from Real Estate!
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Supercars cost as much as a proper house / office! When its down to a duel between a car or a property, the latter will win in 99% of the cases. Indians simply LOVE owning real estate...the more, the better. Most millionaires would any day buy an additional home / office / holiday bungalow instead of a supercar. A property will most likely appreciate too, while most supercars depreciate quickly. On OLX, 10-year old Lamborghinis have popped up for a ~75 lakh asking price.

Reason #14 - A bad rep
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The upper echelons of Indian society are filled with horror stories about supercar ownership. The dealer network is tiny and the brands behave like they're doing you a favour. This is unlike say Mercedes-Benz, which has service centres across the country & rolls out the red carpet for its clients. To make matters worse, Ferrari has a poor reputation in the country due to its relationship with Ashish Chordia, which ended bitterly. Too many people were scammed by him & Ferrari is to blame too (it cared little about its customers).

Reason #15 - Complicated maintenance
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With their cutting-edge technology & race car speed, supercars aren't the last word in ease-of-maintenance or reliability. Service centres are almost inexistent, as is part availability (everything is flown in). Maintenance costs a whole lot of money & time. Some brands will fly the mechanic down to your city (costs big $$$), while some owners resort to shipping their cars to a different city for service. A handful of 1-percenters have a custom workshop in their garage. As the saying goes, if you have to ask about how much it costs to maintain a supercar, you probably can't afford it.

Reason #16 - Driver capability
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End of the day, how many drivers are capable of handling 700 horsepower? Even if one buys a supercar, it's an entirely different matter if he or she will be able to enjoy it. In comparison, there is no such skillset required for an uber-luxury sedan or SUV.

Reason #17 - Eye watering costs of repair
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Further to the previous point, if you damage your supercar, be prepared to pay through your nose. Even for a fender bender, repairs can go well into the 7-figures and the time taken will be spoken of in months (not weeks). Regular mechanical or electrical failure requires some pretty heavy cheques too.

Reason #18 - Uncomfortable
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Face it, supercars are uncomfortable. Most have a stiff ride, you have to sit really low (tell your wife to do it in a skirt and see what she does to you), the seats are very hard / sporty, the drive is noisy (fun at times, annoying at others) and the overall experience unrefined (pure to enthusiasts though). While petrol-heads will love it, Mukesh & Neeta Ambani won't.

Reason #19 - Relatively cheaper fun
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You don't need to spend money to have fun in Indian driving conditions. W-a-a-a-a-y cheaper cars like the Cayman S, or even the Mini Cooper S, are a whole lot of fun to drive on your favourite ghat. They are more practical as well and there are lesser things to worry about. These make a compelling case for themselves in a unique country like India, vis-a-vis supercars.
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Old 15th July 2019, 12:33   #2
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Default Re: Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Supercars Section. Thanks for sharing!

Here's reason #20 = practical sedans like the E63 which have supercar-like performance, 600 BHP, 0 - 100 in 3 seconds, 4 doors, space for 5, a proper boot and "sleeper" looks. When we'd taken the E63 to Lonavla, I asked my brother whether he would buy this or a 911 Turbo. His instant reply = E63 because he doesn't go anywhere without his family.
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Old 15th July 2019, 13:23   #3
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Default Re: Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

I believe the ride quality in the supercars have improved a lot over the years. The dealer network and the maintenance (cost & time) could be the strongest reason for the low numbers. Lack of time to properly enjoy driving a supercar could also be a reason. The hunger can of course be satisfied by driving in other countries when on a business trip or vacation with rented or own supercar.

Last edited by jayguar : 15th July 2019 at 13:27.
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Old 15th July 2019, 13:40   #4
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Default Re: Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

1.3 Billion people, 2nd in population.
7th largest in landmass
Arguably 2nd largest road network
One of the largest car market of the world with potential to grow even much further.

Yet, we built only 3 public race track? One being Budh International and rest are smaller in Southern Part of the country.

How will the interest grow unless the capable are shown the capabilities of these machines & the enjoyment they bring?
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Old 15th July 2019, 13:53   #5
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Default Re: Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

Reason #21 - They probably got one abroad

If you are rich enough to afford a supercar, you probably go abroad a lot, and can afford to rent one there(if not buy one outright).
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Old 15th July 2019, 13:58   #6
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Default Re: Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

Reason 22 - No access to quality fuel/infrastructure on the highways.

These cars can be enjoyed on our NH, but planning for fuel is a nightmare. Some owners use octane boosters with 91 RON from COCO bunks, but that's not ideal. No safe rest stops further compound the matter.
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Old 15th July 2019, 14:16   #7
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Default Re: Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

Reason #23

Getting high octane fuel is a pain in the neck. Even in a city like Bangalore, there are very few outlets. Thankfully octane boosters come to the rescue.

I'm not sure but supercars maybe vulnerable to even slightly contaminated fuel as they run at high compression ratios and are equipped with sophisticated fuel injectors. So ensuring fuel with high quality and purity will still be a challenge. After all, you really don't want to screw up your supercar after spending a bomb!

Ash_vtec you beat me for the same point
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Old 15th July 2019, 14:54   #8
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Default Re: Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

More than anything I have to say it is the lack of proper roads where you can drive a supercar properly. Most highways in India have animals wandering onto the road at will. Bikers will pull out onto the road without bothering to look behind them. People happily drive the wrong way on a divided highway to save a litre of fuel. There are very few highways, like say the Bombay-Pune highway, where you can drive peacefully. With that in mind, how do you enjoy the supercar and its handling. A super-saloon will give you similar straight line performance so why bother with a more impractical car
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Old 15th July 2019, 14:57   #9
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Default Re: Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

I think there are just 2 reason for the low sales of supercars in India.
All others are secondary.

Reason# 1 - Superscars are simply a misfit in this country

Reasons - hot weather, polluted air, road quality, fuel availability, traffic density, traffic discipline.

Reason# 2 - Not aspirational enough

If most of these 5 cr. earning Indians are self made, with brains and grit, I would guess they wouldn't subscribe to supercar ownership as a symbol of "I've arrived in life" just because it is so in the USA.

Additionally, doesn't help the supercar owner imagery a lot the fact that most of such cars are owned by progeny of folks of certain type. That makes these supercars even less aspirational.

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Old 15th July 2019, 16:17   #10
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Default Re: Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

Reason # 24

Too few entrants into the Billionaires Club

Our high echelon has few people owning a hell of a lot. They've bought their Rolls and made their statement and have no need to replace it and the successor model is almost identical

Have not seen any new Phantoms in imported into India

Reason #25

The wealthy love virgins

Buy a supercar and when time comes to sell, it takes a long time to sell at the desired price. Why? The person who can afford a secondhand supercar will prefer to buy new. Partially social pressure, partially not all the wealthy really know how to drive properly!

Reason 26

Half the Price, Double the Fun

Why pay 3 times the price when I can afford to have a house abroad and enjoy the car on the roads where it was meant to be driven, for the same price

Reason 27

"Carnet, Cannot"

The first six months of ownership are when to kill society with the wow factor of the latest, something new. Why not buy your latest wheels abroad, get a carnet, fly it over, wow your gals/boys/whatever and when the hullabaloo is over, send it back!

Last edited by ajmat : 15th July 2019 at 16:19.
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Old 15th July 2019, 17:02   #11
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Default Re: Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

I think the main reasons would be lack of money, roads, fuel and knowledge to drive a super car. I think the same amount of care should go into driving a super car as would be customizing it and travelling to see it come up! I'd suggest a taking a sabbatical and learn to drive it on a track and then unleash it on the roads. We have lot of "holy cows" on our roads and our "J walkers" brigade who give your cars brakes and your hearts a fantastic work out. For me I'd need RBI and Indian Oil on my side to foot the bill then I may consider buying one and learning to drive it.
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Old 15th July 2019, 20:21   #12
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Default Re: Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

Also I think these cars give very poor mileage and hence will provide very limited range. Therefore one cannot take it very far off from the base station.
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Old 15th July 2019, 23:06   #13
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Default Re: Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

Indian mentality is such that any display of excessive wealth is frowned upon. Also, its a huge logistical nightmare to getting around driving it. I agree there are roads and tracks, but the super car needs to get there first. Also, servicing them is ridiculously expensive and time-consuming.

GTO has put it the simplest terms:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Here's reason #20 = practical sedans like the E63 which have supercar-like performance, 600 BHP, 0 - 100 in 3 seconds, 4 doors, space for 5, a proper boot and "sleeper" looks.
You can drive this into the Merc dealer to get it repaired, but if you had a supercar- the service personnel would have to fly in to do their job.

I'd probably have more fun driving a VW Polo GTI or Abarth Punto on our roads.

Last edited by landcruiser123 : 15th July 2019 at 23:08.
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Old 15th July 2019, 23:11   #14
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Default Re: Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

I think this is one of the reasons.

We are at 142nd place in terms of GDP per capita. (US$ 2036)

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Old 16th July 2019, 00:59   #15
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Default Re: Why Supercar sales are so woefully low in India (relative to the overall market size)

Reason 28: The 'butch' Fortuner scores more 'respect' than those three pointed stars and four circled cars (read: SUV obsession)

Reason 29: A 5 crore family car is more likely to be brought than a 1 crore supercar.

Originally Posted by Storm2.0 View Post
Also I think these cars give very poor mileage and hence will provide very limited range. Therefore one cannot take it very far off from the base station.
Am sure the rich who can afford a supercar, can afford to have a support car just to refuel their supercar.
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