The Indian subsidiary of German luxury carmaker Audi announced that Balbir Singh Dhillon, its head of dealer development, will replace Rahil Ansari as the head of Audi India from September 2019. Ansari will move to Audi's headquarters in Germany, and assume the role of Senior Director, Central Sales Controlling (Global).
With over 23 years of experience in the automotive field and around 12 years with the Volkswagen Group, Dhillion will be responsible for reviving the luxury carmaker’s sales in India. The past two years have been challenging for Audi India. In 2018, sales fell 18 percent YoY to 6,463 units (2017: 7,876 units) – the second consecutive year in which the brand struggled to find traction after 2017, when it posted a two percent growth after being hit by the GST cess hike.
The carmaker has attributed the drop in sales to the closure of its largest dealership, located in Delhi NCR, where it typically records maximum deliveries. Also, Audi India had fewer launches in 2018 as compared to its peers. It introduced the Q5 petrol and diesel, the RS5 Coupé and two special-edition models each, for the Q3 and Q7; but that is set to improve as Audi is now gearing up to launch the A6 and A8 sedans, the Q8 and all-electric e-tron SUVs in the next few months.
“Balbir has been part of the Audi team in India and Middle-East and we are confident that he will take the brand forward in India even as market tries to buck external factors and grow,” said Michael Frisch, Vice President Region Overseas AUDI AG, in a statement.
Dhillon has previously worked with Audi India between 2007 and 2012 as Head of Sales Field Force and has had stints at Audi Middle-east, Porsche India and Honda India in his previous roles. He rejoined the carmaker in July 2018 and is responsible for Network Profitability and Business Planning in his current role.
Interestingly, key rival BMW Group India also recently appointed a new head with Rudratej Singh set to take over as president and chief executive officer from August 2019. In his earlier stint, he was global president of Royal Enfield. Mercedes-Benz India appointed Martin Schwenk as its MD and CEO effective November 2018. All three newly appointed chiefs will have their work cut out, given the challenging situation in India's luxury car segment.