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Thu, Jun 01, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Rolls-Royce targets India's wealthy

AFP AND AP , MUMBAI AND NEW DELHI

The first Rolls-Royce showroom opened in India yesterday to woo the nation's growing band of rich entrepreneurs with the ultimate symbol of luxury and status.

Rolls-Royce, once the car of choice of the maharajas during British colonial rule, has sold about 10 models in the past year with Indian buyers customizing their purchases with woven family crests, officials said.

The Navnit Motors dealership said it hoped to grow and sell up to 30 cars a year from a showroom in Mumbai, targeting entrepreneurs and industrialists.

The current offering, the Phantom, has a price tag of nearly US$1 million, said Navnit marketing director Sharad Kachalia, whose company sells cars, yachts and jets to India's wealthiest.

"Young entrepreneurs are making good money and this is where we see some looking for an ultimate statement," Kachalia said. "To earn such an ornament in life is an achievement for anyone."

The potential buyers -- generally aged between 20 and 45 with the majority in Mumbai and involved in pharmaceuticals, construction and the media -- go for personal stamps on their cars, Kachalia said.

"Many ask for details like the family crest embroidered on the headrests, stitching on the leather seats and for their own name on the dashboard," he said.

India's economy expanded 8.4 percent in the fiscal year through March, surpassing forecasts, due to a surge in farm production and manufacturing output in the last quarter, the government said yesterday.

In its annual ranking of the world's richest people released in March, Forbes Magazine labeled India as the "rising star" in the firmament of the fabulously wealthy.

It said there were 23 Indian billionaires with a combined net worth of US$99 billion, an increase of 60 percent from the year before.

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