Volkswagen won't share the Ameo with Skoda
TG\: When was the decision to make the Ameo made?
Dr Andreas Lauermann\: The decision was taken three years ago. In 2012, the decision was taken and in the beginning of 2013, the definition phase started.
TG\: What were the aspects you wanted to get absolutely spot on with your first compact sedan?
AL\: This is always not so easy to answer because when you're making such a product, yes, we have big expectations, certain definitions and ideas on how to do it. And you have to put all the ideas together and bring it to a certain concept, because the segment is very nice. We have no experience with such [a] concept. We have a car in [the] sub four-metre [segment] but its not a notchback, its a hatchback. And you have to do the best you can with it and find a way to provide what the market expects.
We have big competitors who have been here for years and have enough experience, so you have to concentrate on what is absolutely necessary. We have done a lot of investigations, and used our experience to define the design and the changes we have to do to get a very nice and a competitive car. Also, it's a Volkswagen, not a copy of a competitor. I think that is evident when you look at the car. I think its the best-looking car in the segment. When you see the features that we are trying to get in, we're making the Ameo as safe as it can be. Were making no compromise on that front. And there is no doubt about it. As for the new features, I believe we have used the best ones available.
TG\: Rs 720 crore is a big investment for an India-specific product. Do you see the Ameo doing the kind of volumes that would justify this investment?
AL\: We always do this when we are considering new projects. We always make the calculations, see if it is feasible and brings us profits in the end or not. We are convinced this is a good investment and a very important investment, because we were not in this segment and this is one of the most important segments we have in India. We must be present here and it will also pay off and we are very sure about this, no doubt about it.
TG\: Are you expecting the Ameo to be the highest seller in the VW India line-up?
AL\: No, it will not be the highest seller in the Volkswagen line-up. That will still be the Polo in the domestic market.
TG\: While other manufacturers are building 'global' cars, you've come out with a made-for-India vehicle. Do you see the potential for more such market-specific offerings?
AL\: When you look at our portfolio, at this moment, the Ameo is necessary for India because this is a special segment in India but its a huge segment so we have to be present here. With what we are producing at the moment, we are also very successful in the global market\: the Vento is the best selling car in Mexico. So we have to look at what is necessary for Volkswagen here. Last year, we launched the Beetle for the brand and not for volumes. And we have shown in Delhi the new Passat. In the past, we had the Passat here, and we believe it is absolutely necessary and thats why we are bringing the new Passat to India along with the Tiguan.
TG\: Talking of products required in India, we come back to the compact SUV. Has the Taigun been shelved?
AL\: We're always investigating the SUV segment, especially this one, which is growing fast. Unfortunately, we don't have the right car available immediately. Well be investing in what we can do with our existing models and platforms available in the Volkswagen portfolio to create a car that is successful in India. The Taigun was something we also discussed for India, but it was not really feasible. We continue to investigate in other alternatives and we have to continue as this is an important market segment and we also want to be in it.
TG\: Will the Ameo also be shared with Skoda?
AL\: This is a car developed at Volkswagen as a Volkswagen for a segment Volkswagen wants to cover. And therefore, there are no plans for Skoda.
TG\: Do you see a market for lifestyle pick-ups? Isuzu has set the ball rolling with the D-Max V-Cross, and you have the Amarok in your line-up abroad...
AL\: (smiles) I have known the Amarok since it was a baby. The car could also be interesting for India. But when you look at the competitors and the price level of their products, the Amarok would be too expensive. Its a high technology car, it has a ladder-frame [construction] but the technology is one of the highest levels. And when you look at the pick-up segment here, then we have simple cars and more for rural areas unfortunately. There are bigger segments we want to cover and we have to spend our money well on them. If there is a better possibility for the Amarok, we will use it. At the moment, the feasibility is not very good.