Thursday, May 14, 2009

Global Car Majors to Follow Maruti Route

Global carmakers looking to the blasting Indian car market to relieve their destinies are planning to simulate Maruti Suzuki’s plan of action of establishing hatchback and sedan variants of the same model, as they research ways to cut costs.

Maruti’s Dzire, the highest selling sedan in the country, builds upon its origin to another best-seller, the Swift hatchback. Now companies like the world’s largest carmaker Toyota, Europe’s largest car maker Volkswagen, Japan’s Honda and America’s Ford Motor plan to use the same technology to make both hatchbacks and sedans for their future launches in India.

Toyota’s will use its small car platform, Yaris, to launch a small and a big car in India next year. Volkswagen’s small car Polo as well as Ford’s new small car will have additional sedan variants.

Dzire, priced at Rs 4.6 lakh - 6.7 lakh (diesel and petrol) sold 60,000 units in the last financial year, and some of its variants have a delivery lag of over two month owing to high bookings.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor’s deputy MD for marketing Sundeep Singh says that the company hopes to achieve its sales target in the country with the twin hatchback-sedan strategy. “We have already begun ground work for the small car. While the premium hatchback is for customers upgrading from entry-level cars, the sedan will target customers wanting a bigger car,’’ he says.

Volkswagen, after launching Passat and Jetta sedans in India, will add a third sedan based on the Polo platform. Its main model under the same brand will be a hatchback. “India will be the only market where both versions of the Polo will be made available. Both cars will be positioned in a way to avoid competing with Skoda Fabia,” said Jorg Muller, Volkswagen India president and managing director. The hatchback will be launched later this year and the sedan version will follow after few months.

Auto analysts tracking the Indian market said that as competition intensifies in India, manufacturers will find ways to cut costs and multi-product platforms will be used to remain competitive. “Dzire is just the beginning and we will see many more companies rolling out two or more cars from a single platform,” says Mohit Arora, senior director, JD Power Asia Pacific.

Honda Siel Cars India has gone a step ahead to launch two different cars from a single platform. Its soon-to-be-launched premium small car, Jazz, will be based on the Honda City platform.

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