Change in guard at the top of BMW India: Philipp von Sahr to replace Dr Andreas Schaaf as President
Mr Philipp von Sahr will be succeeding Dr Andreas Schaaf on October 1st, 2012, bringing to an end the highly successful 28 month tenure of Dr Schaaf, who consolidated BMW India’s position as India’s top luxury car maker amidst heightening competition. Dr Schaaf also brought the Mini brand of iconic sports hatchbacks to India earlier this year, when the brand was launched at the 2012 Indian Auto Expo. That said, Mr Philipp Von Sahr arrives at a time when the leadership position of BMW India is being challenged by Volkswagen group company Audi. Dr Schaaf moves back to Munich to assume an executive position at BMW;’s headquarters.
Mr Von Sahr holds a Masters in Business Administration degree from the University of Munich and is currently the president of BMW-Belgium and Luxembourg. Previously, Mr Von Sahr has also held the position of head of sales for BMW Germany. The appointment of Mr Von Sahr represents the third President that BMW India has had over the past six years, Mr Peter Kronshnabl and Dr Andreas Schaaf being his predecessors. Mr Von Sahr would have a task at hand given that Audi’s position in the luxury SUV and Crossover segment has gotten much stronger with the Audi Q3 enjoying big demand.
Also, Mercedes Benz India is coming out with the B-Class Sports Tourer, a car that is expected to be positioned against the likes of the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3. So, competition definitely is intensifying for BMW India. BMW, for its part will be banking heavily on the all new F30 3 Series sedan, which is expected to be launched by the end of July 2012. The 3 Series sedan, launched internationally a while ago, has received wide acclaim for being a big step up, from the current 3 Series model. Also, the F30 3 Series car is bigger than the current model both externally as well as on the interiors. Also, the brand is expected to bring in the facelifted BMW X1, to counter the Audi Q3, by the end of 2012.
The X1 has been a big success for BMW in India, by virtue of the crossover being the entry level model for the brand in the country. Therefore, BMW will want to defend its marketshare fiercely given that Audi has priced the Q3 very aggressively. Also, Audi India has been very active in terms of marketing its products through new streams of media like social networks and aggressive marketing taken right to the customer’s doorstep like dedicated test drives at office complexes and the works. So, BMW India will definitely have to up its game by being more aggressive than Audi to protect its turf, especially in the current economic conditions which ate gloomy to say the least.