Let us have a look at the performance of the cars launched in the year 2017. Why now? As manufacturing and logistics activity usually stabilize after 6 months from launch date, based on demand-supply situation. Only new generation and new products are considered here, not the mid-life refresh ones.
3rd generation has brought Verna nameplate back in the game, in a segment which is reeling under SUV onslaught. Remember how, once, 2nd generation fluidic design Verna brought aspirational Honda City on its knees. City reclaimed its position later but that was quite an interesting show. Verna’s position seems to be safe till new City comes in 2020.
After pretty long time, Tata Motors is showing good growth with an all new productline. Credit should go where it is due, to erstwhile Chairman of Tata Motors – Mr. Cyrus Mistry and the then Managing Director Mr. Karl Slym, and their Horizonext strategy, rolled out in 2012-13. They transformed the organization and made Tata Motors future ready and put the company on growth trajectory where it is today.
“This strategy rests on the pillars of intense product focus, benchmarking to world-class manufacturing practices, enriched customer purchase experience, consistent and outstanding service and a technology-intensive aftermarket support. With this, we strive for the next level in design, driving experiences, fuel economy and connectivity” – Tata Motors Annual report 2013-14.
Maruti Dzire (sub 4m)
Dzire needs no introduction, it is the best-selling car of 2018. With every new generation it became much more desirable, and yes, Honda’s latest attempt to dethrone it, is not quite successful yet.
Tigor couldn’t emulate the success of Tiago. Underpowered engine and body styling is not very well accepted by Indian market. It seems Tigor got some numbers from Zest, and later is pushed into fleet segment.
Tiguan is 6th best-selling car across the globe (2018). But conservative design language is not helping the case of Tiguan in India. Even more expensive cousin Kodiaq is doing better numbers than Tiguan.
Currently it is slowest selling hatchback in Maruti’s portfolio. Other car makers will be more than happy to have such sales numbers, but as per Maruti’s standard, it is a flop. Looking at its some of near predecessor, we can easily gauge in our crystal ball (graph below) where it is heading to. In fact, predecessors had much better start as well. Over-priced perception, polarizing rear end design, and close positioning between Swift (aspirational) and Wagon R (Value for money) has taken toll on its number. So, for all those who believe that Maruti badge stamped on any car can sell, please take a note. Primarily, it is always product and price.
Previous generation of Passat was launched to build premium brand image for Volkswagen in India. It did fairly well for its part. But current generation couldn’t even hold candle to its cousin Superb. Car is loaded with all bells and whistles, but it looks very bland from all angles and it’s no brainer for customers to go for its stylish cousin. By the way segment is dying way too fast.
Overpriced perception and underpowered engine (148 bhp) took a toll on Kodiaq’s number. Its direct competitor Honda CRV brought in newer generation car with even more underpowered (120 bhp) engine. What is going on, a race to bring underpowered engines at insanely high price. Surprisingly, body on ladder frame cars too lost some of steam this year.
India’s craze for SUV and sunroof was very well adapted by Honda with minimal investment. But numbers are going down now, and upcoming Mahindra XUV 300 will hurt the weakest first, and very promising Hyundai 4m SUV will hit everyone hard.
Hexa is nothing but repackaged Aria. Seems more like a bridging product, till the launch of H5X (2019) and H7X (2020). In competitive landscape it may not have performed that well but in isolation it has really done the job what it is meant to, compared to its super flop predecessor, thanks to Horizonext strategy.
It was the most awarded car in 2017. Had a grand opening, as it was tremendous value for money product, given the Jeep brand and heritage. Then what happened?
Lot of product issues, high maintenance cost and below par channel partners (dealerships) are the major reason cited by customers for not going for such an appealing product on paper and in metal. This resulted in bad word of mouth, and numbers just corroborate that. Jeep needs to be very cautious with upcoming Renegade.
In Europe, Duster is sold under Dacia (Romania) brand, well regarded as no nonsense functional car. And European Captur is sold as premium crossover, based on Renault Clio (Hatchback)- a Maruti Baleno sized car. Both are well differentiated products sold under different brand and have distinct image and customer segment. Then what Renault India has set out to achieve by offering two products having similar dimension and catering to same customer segment, but one of them asking for price premium over other for no apparent reason. Besides that interior plastic is hard, that may work for Duster but not for so called premium Captur, and from outside it looks like grown up stylish Kwid rather than rugged looking SUV (read Duster) or sophisticated looking SUV (read Hyundai Creta). Result is quite apparent.
Nissan is playing the same trick now with Kicks slated for January 2019 launch. Leather trim on dashboard looks upmarket but besides that, all plastic parts looks like carried over from Duster/Terrano/Captur, which is hard and feel cheap. If they price it over ambitiously like Captur, then we know the result beforehand, similar to above numbers.
(The article is written by Rohan Rishi. You can connect with him at email@example.com)