BERLIN, Sept 21 – German luxury car maker BMW said Tuesday it was expanding its activities in India, including boosting production capacity at its factory in the southeastern city of Chennai.
The site will soon produce 5,400 vehicles per year, up from 3,000 currently, and from November begin producing the X1 model, in addition to the 3 series and 5 series currently built at the plant.
BMW hopes to "penetrate a new customer segment," production chief Frank-Peter Arndt said, as India\’s burgeoning middle class flexes its new purchasing power. The company also plans to expand its network of dealers.
German car manufacturers, which have long focused on China, are beginning to turn their attention to India.
BMW established a presence in India in 2006 and has seen steady growth in sales since then. In the first eight months of this year, the company sold 3,300 vehicles, nearly matching its full-year sales for 2009.
By 2012, BMW will have invested 30 million euros (39 million dollars) in India.
Volkswagen joined forces last year with Japan\’s Suzuki, which is India\’s biggest passenger car company thanks to its joint venture with homegrown Maruti.