Personnel Articles

BMW Group Australia chief executive Vikram Pawah has been appointed president of BMW Group India, adding responsibility for the important South Asian market while maintaining his role as head of both Australia and New Zealand.

Effective as of August 1, Mr Pawah’s appointment comes two months after the sudden death of his predecessor, BMW Group India president and CEO Rudratej ‘Rudy’ Singh.

Mr Singh, 46, had been in the position since August 1 last year. Since his death, which was reportedly the result of a cardiac arrest, chief financial officer Arlindo Teixeira has served as acting president.

The role is not an unfamiliar one for Indian-born Mr Pawah, who joined BMW Group India as president at the start of 2017 but left 18 months later to become head of the Antipodean operations from August 1, 2018, replacing Marc Werner who was heading back to Germany to take up a new role as regional director for Mini in Asia-Pacific, Africa, Russia and Imported Markets.

As well as overseeing the BMW, Mini and Motorrad brands in Australia and New Zealand, Mr Pawah also retained links to the Indian market as chairman of BMW Group India.

In a statement, BMW Group senior vice-president for Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Hendrik von Kuenheim, said: “Under the leadership of Mr Vikram Pawah, BMW Group has successfully stood ground in a fiercely competitive environment and gained significant momentum in both Indian and Australian luxury car markets.

“As a priority market, India presents tremendous potential for future growth and development of the luxury automotive segment.

“Mr Pawah brings excellent preconditions to navigate BMW Group India in a challenging business situation due the ongoing corona pandemic.

“We are confident that his strategic thinking, hands-on approach and ability to drive people will navigate the organisation in these turbulent times.”

The German prestige auto giant said the “sudden and unexpected demise” of Mr Singh “created an unprecedented situation at BMW Group India”, which through the BMW, Mini and Motorrad brands “has its sight set firmly on the premium sector of the Indian automobile market”.

In the first quarter of this year, BMW registered 2365 vehicle sales, Mini recorded 117 units and Motorrad delivered 1024 motorcycles.

Last year, the Indian subsidiary posted 9000 sales for BMW, 641 for Mini and 2403 for Motorrad.

This came as new-vehicle sales declined for the first time in five years across the entire Indian market, falling 13 per cent to 3.81 million units which saw India slip to fifth position globally behind Germany after overtaking it to become the world’s fourth-biggest market in 2018.

Mr Singh had brought more than 25 years’ experience to the position at BMW both within and outside the automotive industry. He previously served as global president at the hallowed Indian motorcycle brand Royal Enfield, and earlier worked for Unilever in India and international markets for more than 16 years.

BMW said at the time of his death that “he will always be remembered as an inspiring and compassionate human being”.

“His transformational vision and strategic orientation played a crucial role in navigation of BMW Group India in a challenging business environment,” the company said.

“His demise comes at a crucial junction when BMW Group India was in the midst of implementing strategic measures for strengthening the dealer network across India.”

As well as running a dealer network across India’s major metropolitan centres, BMW has a manufacturing plant in Chennai, a parts warehouse in Mumbai and a training centre in Gurgaon NCR.

As GoAuto has reported, Mr Pawah has extensive industry experience that includes almost 12 years with Honda in Australia, where he started as corporate affairs manager in 2000 after arriving from India’s Honda Siel Power Products where he was in charge of corporate planning.

Originally graduating from Delhi University with a commerce degree, he followed up with an MBA at Melbourne’s Victoria University.

At Honda Australia, he moved through a variety of leadership positions, including parts and logistics senior manager, before being appointed general manager for power equipment and marine in 2008 – a role he held for more than three years.

He then transferred back to India with Honda Cars India in 2012 to become general manager of strategic planning for a brief stint before being promoted to sales, firstly as general manager and then as assistant vice-president.

He left Honda to join Harley-Davidson India as managing director in September 2015 before moving to BMW Group India as president in January 2017.

By Terry Martin