New Delhi: If the emergence of over a dozen new cars made India a hot market for automobiles in 2010, there is more to come. As disposable incomes rise in a booming economy and cash-rich people in smaller cities and towns exhibit a new desire to flaunt their wealth, Indian automobile market will see the launch of 50 new car models, offering disparate choices for consumers.
Global majors such as Honda and BMW will launch their Brio and Mini, respectively, intensifying competition in the compact car market dominated by Maruti Suzuki’s Swift and Ford’s Figo.
But Maruti Suzuki, known for its small car, will launch its luxury sedan ‘Kizashi’ in January, seeking to change the customer perception and tapping the potential in the luxury bracket. Mercedes will re-launch its most expensive brand Maybach. This market will be further expanded when Audi launches its Audi 8 in India shortly.
A group of 150 local businessmen decided to purchase enmasse, Merzedes Benz car each, in October last year, signalling the rising yen for luxury products.
“It’s the new cars that are bringing in new incremental customers and expand the market. While the 30% growth in 2010 was largely due to new cars, we expect the domestic market to reach new levels as more new cars enter India,” said consultancy firm TNS Automotive analyst Pradeep Saxena.
With cutsomers showing a preference for diesel products, car-makers are working on new options. Maruti is fitting a new diesel machine to its Sx4 sedan while the diesel options will also be available in compact cars such as Hyundai i10 and the GM Beat.
Sports utility vehicle (SUV) market may also witness some new entrants. The buzz is that Volkswagen’s Tiguan, the Rexton and Korando from Ssangyong, now part of the utility vehicle major, Mahindra & Mahindra, will also hit the market in 2011. Renault crossover Koleos would be another major attraction in the segment.
The SUV market has really carried off in India with the launch of Toyota’s Fortuner almost doubling to over 100,000 units a year. “We are waiting for some real competition in the segment. There is so much demand for the Fortuner that we have started its booking in January, after a gap of six months, as customer order always outstretch our capacity,” said Toyota Deputy Managing Director (Marketing ) Sandeep Singh .
To beat the competition, several cars would come in new avatars this year. The Swift would come with fuel saving push button ignition and luxurious sunroof option. It would be slightly longer and wider than its current sibling and is expected to hit the market in June this year.
The rather dull motorbikes market that went without much action in 2010 will see some real hot launches with BMW, KTM and Honda bringing in their high-performance bikes. After splitting with Hero Group, Honda’s first major launch would be the CBR250R in the premium 250 cc segment.
Mahindra launches Thar
Mahindra & Mahindra has launched the Thar, which holds on to the looks of the MM540 but is an all-new off-roader with a new chassis and has loads of features. The MM540 is popular among city-dwellers as well as the Army and paramilitary forces.
Available in DI and CRDe versions, the company hopes to target a new lifestyle segment with the Thar and will provide a wide range of customisation options. While the CRDe 4x4 BSIV variant is priced at Rs. 5.99 lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi), the DI 4X2 variant is priced at Rs 4.47 lakhs (ex-showroom, Jaipur). Based on a chassis that is a mix of the Bolero and the Scorpio, the Thar offers 105bhp. While the CRDe variant will be built at Mahindra’s plant in Kandivali, Mumbai, the DI variant will be built at Nashik. Company sources said that the estimated development costs were Rs 5 crore. A customised Thar was showcased at the Mumbai launch equipped with alloys, black leather seats with red piping and a winch. Customisation options can cost around Rs. 2 lakhs over the standard variant According to Mahindra, and all customisations will be done at the dealer’s end.