Markets in everything the culture that is India

by on March 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm in Economics | Permalink

German carmaker Audi makes special horns for its vehicles sold in India where local drivers hoot so much as they fight their way through chaotic traffic, the firm’s country director has revealed.

“Obviously for India, the horn is a category in itself,” Michael Perschke, director at Audi India, told Monday’s Mint newspaper.

“You take a European horn and it will be gone in a week or two. With the amount of honking in Mumbai, we do on a daily basis what an average German does on an annual basis.”

Perschke said the horns are specially adapted for driving conditions in India, a booming market where Audi is one of many foreign car brands competing for increasingly wealthy customers.

“The horn is tested differently – with two continuous weeks only of honking, the setting of the horn is different, with different suppliers,” he said.

Perschke also added that so many Audi owners in India have personal chauffeurs that car interiors have been redesigned so that “you can be more in command from the rear seat.”

The story is here, and for the pointer I thank Mark Thorson.

Scoop March 31, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I was considering a trip to India. I may reconsider.

Rahul March 31, 2012 at 2:06 pm

A similar story I hear is that some cellphone makers modify their speakers; regular models are apparently too hard to hear over the din. Could be just a rumor.

dearieme March 31, 2012 at 2:16 pm

” horns are specially adapted for driving conditions in India, a booming market”: shouldn’t that be a hooting market?

Ankur March 31, 2012 at 3:02 pm

The same is true for TVs. In the 1990s, Onida succeeded because they had huge speakers. A bit of a vicious cycle – loudness causing hearing loss resulting is demand for louder stuff.

Jeff March 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm

“here” appears to be a broken link. Can anyone confirm this?

Venkat March 31, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Horns are one of the several localizations that foreign cars go through when designed for India. Fuel economy is a major factor that Indians consider (even in the luxury car segment) while buying a car (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnzpVPE0p1E). Ride height (ground clearance) and tougher suspension are other important considerations because of the condition of the roads. Diesel variants are lot more popular than petrol versions because of the big price difference.

Simone Simonini April 2, 2012 at 1:27 pm

The diesel price difference is largely driven by subsidies intended to help agriculture.

mr. commenter guy April 1, 2012 at 12:03 am

In places like the US, a horn blast often means something serious, like “Oh no! Someone just screwed up bigtime!”

In India, it more often means something innocuous like “I want to go ahead of you” or even just “I’m here.”

Ricardo April 1, 2012 at 3:00 am

To my ear, horns have a softer, gentler sound in India. Blowing your horn unjustifiably in America can be the start of a road rage incident but in India, blowing your horn is just normal driving practice to alert other cars of your presence.

Will McCullam April 2, 2012 at 9:00 am

Does anyone remember that R. Trujillo in Dominica built an air horn factory and then required every vehicle to have one. The first guy arrested for “giving” the wrong honk was removed from his car and shot by the police with the body left in the street. After that sales of air horns were terrific. Soon, the capitol became so noisy, Trujillo sold his factory and passed a law mandating that air horns could no longer be used. The first guy using one, was taken from his car and shot with the body….

spencer April 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm

When I lived in Venezuela I was told that if I was about to have an accident to blow my horn so I could claim in court that I took action to avoid the accident.

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