Chennai: The consumer durables major Sony India is planning to sell its car audio range to automobile manufacturers who roll out special edition passenger cars. The company is in talks with Tata Engineering (Telco), which is planning a special edition of the Tata Safari.
Sony India has also bagged an order from Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) to supply audio units for its Camry model, a completely built unit. TKM expects to import around 150 Camry cars every month. As per plans, TKM will fit Sony audio CD units in the Camry at its Bidadi plant.
Sony India managing director Teruo Ishii, however, declines to confirm or deny the new developments. But Ishii, 54, says his company has got sizeable orders from Hyundai Motor dealers located in eastern and northern regions. Sony India will supply 2,500 units every month to Hyundai Motor dealers.
The TKM order, nevertheless, cannot be termed as an original equipment (OE) supply for the Rs 600-crore turnover Sony India. The audio CD unit was not designed as per the specifications of the carmaker. What Ishii and his team have done is to convince TKM to fit the audio CDs at its factory before sending the cars to the showrooms.
''Though the OE segment would give good volumes, the margins are low. Further, we don't have a product to target the price-conscious OE segment,'' says Sony India product in-charge (consumer marketing division) Abhijit Paul.
Currently the car audio OE market is dominated by Kenwood. Paul says the total number of cars that roll out with factory-fitted audio sets in India is just 50,000. Though the Maruti 800 accounts for a major share in the car market, higher-priced vehicles are fast gaining market shares, a trend that augurs well for companies like Sony India.
Paul says car audio sales are generally going up at a fast pace (See table). ''The market is estimated at around Rs 75 crore and Sony India's share is 28 per cent. We hope to increase the company's market share to 35 per cent by 2003-04,'' adds Ishii. For Sony India, brands like the Pioneer pose a serious threat at the higher end of the market.
But the strong product line-up is the company's major trump card. Paul says Sony India is the only company that has a three-in-one car audio (FM radio, cassette and CD player). The product portfolio includes 2-CD tuners, 2-CD changers with MP3 facility, 5-cassette tuners, 1-multimedia tuner and complimentary amplifiers, subwoofers, rear/front speakers and tweeters. And the Sony car audio comes with seven equaliser options.
''What is unique about our product range is its 'My Best Position' feature. Flicking a button one can adjust the speakers to optimise the music for the most important person in the car,'' says Paul.
Paul says the ultimate aim of Sony India is to provide digital connectivity (video, audio and play station) inside a car. ''Our X-plod car audio range enjoys a trendy and young image and the targeted segment is also young - in age and at heart,'' adds Ishii.
As part of the promotional strategy, Sony India will be holding road shows and has bought two Tata Safaris for the purpose. ''The vehicles fitted with our audio products will be stationed in major cities and people can sit inside the cars and enjoy the music,'' says Ishii. There will also be a mobile caravan showcasing the latest Sony car audio range with special demo racks.
Sales plan for FY 02