Step aside Bentley Azure, Mercedes-Benz Maybach, Rolls Royce Phantom and DC Avanti, and make way for India’s HI Pvt Ltd, a company that focusses on manufacturing made-to-order luxury cars. While we are in the era of made-to-order shoes, suits, jewellery and bags, Hradyesh Kumar Namdeo decided to set up a manufacturing facility for made-to-order luxury cars. The idea is to create a global car manufacturing brand that builds its client's ‘dream car’.
Incorporated in 2015, this home-grown brand is busy building its own multi-cluster global business offering luxury, handcrafted cars on ‘invitation only’ basis.
“We hand-build a masterpiece crafted especially for you, exactly the way you want, which always remains a single piece in the whole world,” says 36-year-old Hradyesh, Founder Director and CEO of HI Pvt. Ltd. ‘Morris Street’ is their first hand-built luxury car.
Private banking to manufacturing luxury cars
After a career of private banking and handling wealth of HNIs and several royal families, Hradyesh realised a preoccupation common to his clientele was collecting luxury and limited editions of art and other products. While they would buy the top luxury brand of cars, Hradyesh realised that building an Indian global luxury brand for cars would work wonders.
“I saw that most individuals had this strong need for exclusiveness of any luxury offering. These were the initial thoughts followed by a global research study that ignited the idea of creating HI as a supreme luxury offering via the ‘masterpiece edition,’” adds Hradyesh.
So, joining hands with his father, M.Lal, who handled various engineering divisions of BHEL for 34 years, Hradyesh started HI. Every HI car is unique and is put together by hand from scratch. The entire car-manufacturing process includes design, structure, machinery, performance, features, and finish, and all other segments are handcrafted as per owner’s preferences.
Making the orders
The team says a model is never replicated nor re-manufactured. These cars are built strictly on invitation and not available through regular sales mediums.
Once the request is placed online, the team screens the same and understands what the individual needs. Then is the important step of verifying the idea to see if it is practically possible to build. Hradyesh explains: there could be a request for a car that looks like a butterfly. While this may look great in the museum, it will not serve its practical purpose on the road.
Most of the products are made at the company's NCR and Mumbai manufacturing setups. However, if the client is very specific about the kind of machinery they need, the same is sourced. The invitation requests can be placed from anywhere in the globe, but the manufacture of the end-product happens in India.
Creating a global Indian brand
HI is currently at the early stage of the business, and is interacting globally to expand the resource team and join hands with relevant global institutions for ideal financial, talent, and technology and infrastructure infusion.
HI claims to have already received more than 300 invitation requests from different parts of the world and is working on some innovative projects. The average cost of a car is close to a million dollars but varies based on customisation.
HI, Hradyesh says, was started with creating a new global market. He adds that it will constantly innovate and create new segments, eliminating presence of any direct competition.
According to credit rating agency ICRA, India’s luxury car sales is believed to touch one lakh from the current 30,000 cars, by 2020. The report further suggested that about 1.8 lakh Indians are considered dollar millionaires and this category is expected to grow at a rapid pace. So it is safe to assume that Indians across the globe are keen purchasers of luxury car brands.
It is interesting to note that the luxury car sales in India was at less than 1.5 per cent of the overall sales, which was much lesser than the global average. Another interesting pointer is the statement by Philipp von Sahr, President, BMW, that along with metro cities, the company sees growth in sales from Tier II and III cities.
However, a growing market means fiercer and stronger competition. An Audi India statement said that in 2014-15 11,292 vehicles were sold and Mercedes Benz claimed to have sold 11,213 vehicles, with both the companies recording a growth of 11.51 and 18 percent respectively from the previous year.
So, with the bigger, much-established global brands themselves fighting it out fiercely in the space, where does HI fall in the space? In a space where the snob value of the product runs deep with the brand name, will HI be able to create its mark? Hradyesh says that they are much different from the Audis and BMWs of the world, as their focus is more on creating a single piece and not even a limited edition.