March 23, 2011 was a red-letter day for Volkswagen Financial Services – it was the day the company received its financial services license from the Indian Central Bank. Since then, the Volkswagen subsidiary has been offering financing and leasing solutions to Indian customers and dealers. This new development will be instrumental in paving the way for Volkswagen’s future in one of the world’s most promising automotive growth markets.

At the heart of the market. (photo)

In India, it is the pandit – a religious scholar – who decides on the most auspicious date to buy a new car. Here, many buyers also pray for the favor of a number of different gods on future journeys with their new vehicle.

A suitably large crowd has gathered in front of the Volkswagen dealership in Prabhadevi in the center of Mumbai, the largest city in India and home to 12.5 million people. The focus of attention is a white Volkswagen Polo that is to be handed over to a young couple from Mumbai today. The steering wheel and grill of the new car are adorned with ancient good luck symbols fashioned out of blossoms and scented woods. The Indian priest or “sadhu” blesses the vehicle and its future drivers.

PRAYING FOR THE FAVOR OF THE GODS – A blessing is often part of buying a car in India. (photo)

PRAYING FOR THE FAVOR OF THE GODS – A blessing is often part of buying a car in India.

Gurpreet Grover, Head of Dealer Network & Market Development at Volkswagen Finance in India, is not only familiar with the distinctive cultural profile of the subcontinent; he is also aware of the challenges that exist there. With a population of 1.2 billion people, India has a rapidly growing automotive market. Between 2010 and 2011, the Volkswagen Group doubled its sales there to around 100,000 vehicles. Since 2009, the Volkswagen Polo and ŠKODA Fabia have been manufactured in the city of Pune, after Aurangabad the Group’s second production location in the country. Around 70 percent of all new cars in India are financed. To date, this business has been dominated by the banks. “Our aim is to offer more. We provide mobility solutions that go well beyond mere vehicle financing”, says Grover. For instance, such packages might include vehicle financing, insurance and extended maintenance and warranty services.

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