Auto major Volkswagen on Thursday launched its mid-sized sedan 'Virtus' in India with prices starting at Rs 11.21 lakh (ex-showroom).
The company's new offering would compete with the likes of Honda City, Maruti Ciaz, Hyundai Verna, and the recently-launched Skoda Slavia in the mid-sized sedan segment.
Developed on the company's MQB A0 IN platform, Virtus is manufactured at the Chakan plant in Pune and comes with up to 95 percent localization levels.
Virtus is the second product under the group's India 2.0 project and comes with 1 liter and 1.5-liter TSI petrol powertrains, mated with both manual and automatic transmissions.
The 1-liter trims are tagged between Rs 11.21 lakh and Rs 15.71 lakh, while the single 1.5-liter variant is priced at Rs 17.91 lakh.
The one-liter petrol trims deliver 115 PS of power while the 1.5-liter variants generate 150 PS of power.
The 1-liter trim with six-speed manual transmission delivers fuel efficiency of 19.4 km per liter while the six-speed automatic version comes with 18.12-km-per-liter fuel efficiency, the company said.
The 1.5-liter variant with seven-speed DSG transmission delivers fuel efficiency of 18.67 km per liter, it added.
In an interaction with PTI, Volkswagen Passenger Cars India Brand Director Ashish Gupta said that the company is looking to garner 15-20 percent market share in the mid-size sedan segment with its new offering.
''The premium mid-size sedan segment was around 95,000 cars last year. With the introduction of the Virtus and the car from our sister brand (Skoda Slavia), we are confident that this segment will grow to around 1.4 -1.5 lakh units this year and we are looking at a 15 to 20 percent segment share of that growing segment,'' he noted.
While acknowledging the growing popularity of the SUVs globally, Gupta stated that it has been the hatchback segment and not the sedan segment in the domestic market which has been hit by the changing customer preference.
''The growth in SUVs has been fuelled by a lowering of demand in the hatchback segment. Over the last three or four years, the sedan body style has continued at a stable level of around 11 or 12 percent (of the overall domestic passenger vehicle market),'' Sharma said.
He noted that while the sedan segment would not grow to 30 percent of the market suddenly, it would somehow grow from last year on the back of new product offerings.
Gupta said the new product has received a robust response with over 4,000 bookings so far received from all over the country.
On the company's product strategy, he noted that the automaker would like to be present across segments where customer demand is there.
On the company's overall business plans, Gupta said the company would like to maintain its premium bearing and character.
''We have to make sure that we bring in products that meet that positioning. Customers expect a certain quality standard, a certain safety standard, and a certain global appeal from our cars. So we will never be a big volume player because that's not how we are positioned,'' he noted.
He further said: ''That is how I see ourselves and from a volume perspective that means our aspiration is also 3 percent of the market. We are not aspiring for 10 or 50 percent (market share).
Last year the company sold close to around 26,000 vehicles and this year, if everything goes as per plan, the automaker is looking at somewhere close to 55,000 to 60,000 units taking the market share to around 2 percent, Gupta said.
On export plans, he said the sedan would be shipped to around 25 countries.
''The Tiguan is exported as T-cross to almost 30 countries worldwide. Similarly, we are also planning to export Virtus to more than 25 countries worldwide,'' Gupta said.
Virtus is the longest car in the segment (4,561 mm) and comes with a boot space of 521 liters.
It also comes with various features like an electric sunroof, wireless mobile charging, front ventilated leather seats, and up to six airbags.
''The product is a complete package built on the legacy and heritage of Volkswagen sedans. We are confident that the Virtus with its best-in-class features, driving dynamics, and outstanding personality will reignite the love for sedans among customers and re-energize the segment,'' Gupta said.