Wonder Women in Indian Motorsports!

It is quite an honour to publish this post. Indian girls have really broken the shackles to turnaround the  stereotype approach of the society. Girls like Mira Erda,Sneha Sharma, Neharika Yadav and Alisha  have broken many records and have proved a benchmark for current generation. Lets have a look at some of the next gen power girls.

Mira Erda

Mira Erda was born and brought up in Gujarat. She started Karting at the age of 8 on a track build by her father. She became an active racer at the tender age of 9 and was the youngest girl in the Indian Motorsport circuit at the national level. She was competing in the LBG formula 4 till last year. She even defeated stronger and bigger boys by winning the rookie champion of the year during the FMSCI awards.

Mira has already participated in about 75 races both at the national and interntional level. She is going to race for JK Euro which features the BMWFB02 thus becoming one of the youngest Indian drivers to race at this level. But her journey was not that easy. The trainer during her karting days was not at all supportive. It was all due to the efforts and the investment of her dad which encouraged her to choose motosports as a career.

Dr.Neharika Yadav

In a sport dominated by men Dr Neharika is the only super bike racer in the country. She balances her twin pursuits of dentistry and being the fastest women on bike. Her journey from books to track was very challenging.She had an accident while pursuing dentistry and and she lost movement on her right hand. She had to consult various experts for rectifying her right hand. Finally a surgery from USA ensured 50 percent movement of the arm.

After her surgery she was determined to follow both her profession and her passion. Years of determined practice and the guidance of senior and pro fellow riders nurtured the bike racer in her. Dr Neharika started her biking journey with Honda CBR 250 and then shifted to KTM 390RC. Finally she got the taste of Ducati 899 Penigale. She has already completed 2000 kilometres of superbiking at the Buddh International circuit. She truly deserved the destiny- Fastest Superbiker Lady in the Country!

Sneha Sharma

Fueled by her passion Sneha Sharma knew exactly what career she wanted to pursue even when she was 16 years old. Today this girl is not only the fastest racer in the country but also a pilot with Indigo airlines.

Sneha Sharma’s  mother took her to a local track in Mumbai when she was 16 years old. In 2010 she graduated to cars from karts and has also competed in the JK tyre national racing championship. She secured second position in her 4 stroke category at the JK tyre national karting championship 2009. Sneha Sharma was also shortlisted for the 2015 Volkswagen  Vento Cup and the Toyota Etios Cup in India. Sneha Sharma also competed in Mercedes Young Star Program and secured top 5 position. She eventually got the title of India’s fastest female racer. Her journey in the racing arena has been a hard struggle. Being a girl and belonging not to so rich background she did not get sponsorship fees and qualified instructors. She learnt basics of braking and cornering from the simple mechanics.

She has to work at various positions on the race track to sustain herself  in the racing competition. Being a commercial pilot at Indigo Airlines she had to giggle between her profession and her passion. The racing is scheduled in such a way that sometimes there are six races in a month. So she has to plan well in advance to pursue her passion. She was also offered racing seats in Germany and Malaysia. Overall she has won 6 race victims and 14 runner up positions.

 Alisha Abdullah

Alisha Abdullah has got the unique distinction  of being the only Indian women super bike racer and the fastest Indian woman car racer and fastest Indian woman car racer. She has also acted in a Tamil movie Irumbu Kuthirai!

Alisha has been fascinated by racing since she was a kid. At the age of 13 she won MRF national go karting championship. Alisha has got huge distinction of becoming the first Indian woman to get a podium finish in an International Motosport Competition,the Toyota Vios Cup  in 2014. Alisha switched from four wheels to two wheels in 2004.

Competing at the various car racing events was becoming an expensive affair for the Alisha’s family and so she shifted towards motorbike racing. Alisha Abdullah has started her own Racing Academy at the outskirts of Chennai.She wants more and more women to represent India on the global platforms in the years to come.

source: wikipedia, huffington post india

(This article is written by  Gourav Saksham, a dentist by profession and a Petrohead by passion. You can connect with him at gouravsaksham@gmail.com)

OEM wise – Market Coverage and Competitiveness (2012 vs 2017)

In coming years it seems that Maruti might be able to have a product portfolio to cater to every Indian customer’s need (in mass market). Right now, with exception of ₹ 12 Lakhs+ segment, Maruti has covered all the bases in mass market segment, to be precise – 89%. Maruti has even started premium showroom concept called NEXA, to be future ready for premium products. ₹ 12 Lakhs+ products would be real test for NEXA showrooms; Ciaz anyways was doing well from regular Maruti showroom. In last 5 years Hyundai and Honda expanded their market coverage by bringing in products to cater newly emerged and fast growing segments (like compact SUV, sedan).

Competitiveness

For apple to apple comparison of competitiveness, let us have a look at the market share of the only segments where the automaker has a presence. For example Mahindra KUV 100 caters to only one of the possible 4 segments of hatchback.

  • It is surprising to see how Mahindra is the one who has lost its competitive edge big time in past 5 years. Scorpio (2002) and XUV 500 (2011) were game changing products but post that nothing is working for them. When other players started newer segment, Mahindra (TUV300 & KUV 100) failed to make a mark. Upcoming products (MUV-Innova rival, 4m monocoque SUV/Crossover-Brezza rival, 4.3m monocoque SUV/Crossover-Creta rival, Ssangyong Rexton) seems promising but competition is really fierce and Mahindra needs to be really good, to be in the game.
  • Due to lackluster legacy products of 2009 and before, Tata has ceded lot of ground during past 5 years. Horizonext strategy (2013) is finally working for Tata now. Future product line seems promising. If they could turnaround Safari Storme just like Aria (to Hexa), they could beat Mahindra in its own game. Remember how Mahindra was caught off guard when Tata won the Government’s electric vehicle contract, fair and square.
  • In last 5 years, Maruti has tightened its competitive grip in each and every segment it has its presence in and it started reflecting in competitor’s number, particularly Hyundai. However, given the Hyundai’s track record, upcoming 4m SUV/Crossover looks very promising and might help in big way to assert its dominance.
  • India focused product development approach (Kwid) has improved the standing of Renault. However, to continue the momentum they need to stay focused. Product planning and positioning debacle, like Captur, has just derailed that momentum.
  • Nothing was working for Nissan then, nor now. Perhaps they need to quickly bring in new Micra body styling, even if they choose older underpinning, as what Renault did for Captur. Given company’s global position it could have done better in India. They may end up like Chevrolet, only, if they wish to.
  • Honda is finally shedding Brio platform which is good for their future. Amaze’s new design language borrowed from City might work well.
  • With exception of Etios and Liva, Toyota has been very competitive in Indian Market, upcoming Yaris will certainly correct their past mistake.
  • VW’s recent move to downsize the naturally aspirated petrol engine in fastest growing premium hatchback segment looks regressive competitive strategy. On paper performance figure is underwhelming. Potential buyers getting their numbers feed from internet, typically rely on paper figures. So, such a move in a segment which is predominantly petrol powered (75%+) is confounding. Japanese and Koreans are much better at making naturally aspirated petrol engine, at least on papers (power+torque+mileage), but on road performance and sales figure (observation : Mileage is directly proportional to sales figure) too corroborate this. If recently reported Skoda’s big Indian plan is pivoted on such engine (strategy) then perhaps in future Maruti, Hyundai and Tata have to wrestle among themselves in one of the fastest growing segment.

(The article is written by Rohan Rishi. You can connect with him at emailrohanrishi@gmail.com)

Is Maruti The Only Vehicle With Low Maintenance Cost?

Buying a car is just one part of the whole story. Owning and maintaining the car forms the second part. Manufacturers highlight features, space, and styling, but are generally silent on maintenance/service cost of their vehicles. In India, the automobile revolution started with the introduction of the Maruti brand in the early 1980s and it is generally believed that Maruti vehicles are cheap to maintain probably because the cars are being manufactured in India, even though in collaboration with the Japanese carmaker Suzuki.

The aim of this post is to compare the maintenance costs of cars of a few other brands with that of specific Maruti models and see if the belief that only Maruti cars are cheap to maintain is really true or a myth. This is because maintenance cost is an important aspect to be considered when buying a new car. The maintenance/service costs under normal running conditions are worked out for comparison purposes.

Let us now compare the maintenance costs of a few brands to understand this aspect a little better.

#1: Maruti vs Toyota

When it comes to the mid-range cars, the two models that can be compared are Maruti Ciaz and Toyota Platinum Etios. Whereas the price of the base model of Ciaz is INR 7.66 lakh, the base model of Toyota Platinum Etios comes to only INR 6.80 lakh. The mileage claimed by the manufacturers for these models are 28.1 kmpl and 23.6 kmpl, respectively. In terms of engine capacity, Maruti Ciaz is powered by a 1,248 cc engine, while Toyota Platinum Etios has a 1,364 cc engine.

When it comes to the maintenance cost, it runs up to INR 23,631 in the case of Maruti Ciaz petrol variant for six years and eight services. For the diesel variant, it is INR 30,377 for the same number of years and services. The regular maintenance cost for Toyota Platinum Etios is less. For six years and seven services, it works out to around INR 18,200 (INR 18,176 for Petrol and INR 18,196 for Diesel) for both petrol and diesel variants. So the diesel variant of Ciaz, the maintenance cost is almost double that of Toyota Platinum Etios.

Now, if you are wondering as to how Maruti Swift and Toyota Etios Liva fare, it is as follows. Both the cars share the almost same specification, price, and mileage. You have to spend about INR 21,103 and INR 28,312 on regular maintenance for eight services over six years for Maruti Swift petrol and diesel variants, respectively. In the case of the petrol and diesel variants of Toyota Etios Liva, it is INR 18,200 (INR 18,176 for Petrol and INR 18,196 for Diesel) for seven services over six years.

#2: Maruti vs Mahindra

Maruti’s Wagon R and Mahindra’s KUV100 are comparable models in terms of price range, mileage, and engine capacity.  The price of the base models of KUV100 and Wagon R is INR 4.51 lakh and INR 4.14 lakh, respectively. While the KUV100 is powered by a 1,198 cc engine, Wagon R’s engine capacity is just 998 cc. The fuel efficiency claimed by Maruti and Mahindra for these models is almost the same.

Now let’s talk about the maintenance cost of both the vehicles. The total estimated maintenance cost of Wagon R (Petrol Variant) for 6 years and 8 services under normal running conditions works out to INR 27,000 and for the CNG variant, it is INR 25,257 for six years and eight services. In the case of KUV100, the total estimated maintenance cost for six years and seven services it is just INR 18,580. Even for the diesel variant of KUV100, the maintenance cost comes to only about INR 19,570 for six years and seven services. So here Mahindra KUV100 won hands down.

The maintenance costs of even Maruti Celerio variants, which can be included in the same category as Wagon R, is also higher than KUV100. Another aspect that is worth mentioning at this point is about the availability of OEM spare parts. Both the customers of Mahindra and Maruti can get the OEM parts from their authorized service centers, but only Mahindra customers can enjoy an additional benefit of online OEM spare part purchase.

#3: Maruti vs Hyundai

Among Hyundai cars, the model that can be compared with Maruti models Celerio, Wagon R, and Swift is the Grand i10. The base model of Hyundai Grand i10 costs about INR 4.70 lakh and has an engine capacity of 1,197 cc. The fuel efficiency claimed by the manufacturer is 24 kmpl for the diesel variant.

When it comes to the cost of servicing Grand i10 petrol, petrol automatic, and diesel variants eight times over six years is INR 14,274, INR 14,522, and INR 20,599.00, respectively. Which means you can get your Hyundai Grand i10 serviced at a half price when compared with Maruti Wagon R.

#4: Maruti vs Tata

Finally, how does the Indian brand Tata Tiago fare against the Maruti models discussed above?. The base model of Tata Tiago fitted with 1,199 cc engine comes with a price tag of INR 3.26 lakh. The manufacturer claims a fuel efficiency of 27.3 kmpl for its diesel variant. Tiago is rich with engine spec, mileage and badged with competitive price while comparing with Maruti’s Wagon R and Swift. Now let’s check with the maintenance cost.

The cost of servicing Tata Tiago seven times over six years works out to INR 21,980 for the petrol variant and INR 23,860 for the diesel variant. It is obvious that the maintenance cost of Tata Tiago is lower compared to Maruti models. One can enjoy good spec and less maintenance cost vehicle with less price if opt Tata Tiago over Maruti equivalent model.

Another important factor needs to be considered is that the price and availability of OEM spare parts. The well-known place to get OEM spare part is the authorized service centers. The availability of parts will be higher if the number of service center is more. Maruti is not the only maker which covers a nationwide service center. Manufacturers like Hyundai, Mahindra and Tata are also delivering a nationwide service support to its customers with a great number of service centers. With the emergence of E commerce platforms now Mahindra customers can get OEM parts through their online platform as well.

It is now very clear from the above that Maruti brands are not the only ones which come with low maintenance cost as is being commonly believed even now. We have now so many Indian and foreign brands delivers less maintenance cost, some even give less service cost than Maruti models. In general, the maintenance cost of Maruti cars was low when the long-gone Maruti 800 model was in vogue. Over the years, a number of Indian and foreign brands have introduced entry, mid-range, and high-end cars. Now some of the models introduced by these brands can definitely be categorized as low maintenance cost cars as is evident from the above discussion.

Maruti v/s Others – The Myth stands broken!

(Elizabeth Mathew is an entrepreneur, digital journalist and a photographer. A life-long generalist, she writes for various blogs covering digital entertainment, social media and tech. She can be followed @raisamathew)

Passenger Car Makers in India

Mass Market OEMs in India

In 2017, there were almost 16 brands of passenger vehicle on sale in Indian mass market, including Chevrolet which got discontinued in mid-2017. Still Indian market is highly skewed with top two players commanding 67% market share. Several global giant are still fringe players in India and struggling. Unlike global market where market leader has share of roughly 10%-30%, 50% of market share of Maruti Suzuki in India is staggering.

Market Share Trend of the OEMs 

There could be several reasons why global giants are sitting on fence and watching Indian car market action, like –  lack of attention of parent group, fail to read the consumer need, too slow to react and adapt, flawed product strategy or execution etc. Biggest mistake MNCs make, is to consider India as price conscious market (Nissan decided to launch cheap Datsun Products), whereas, Indian buyers are more value conscious, which can be easily explained with Toyota’s product portfolio. Build to cost Etios and its derivative Liva performed poorly in comparison to premium priced Innova and Fortuner.

Performance of luxury car makers has been in line with the global order.

Performance comparison of Luxury OEMs (Indian v/s Global market)

(The article is written by Rohan Rishi. You can connect with him at emailrohanrishi@gmail.com)

Santro: Hyundai’s Trump Card in India!

Post Globalization, Global MNCs were allowed to set up shop in the sub-continent. While many MNC OEMs entered into the Indian market, only a few could make a significant impact in the overall sales. Maruti Suzuki has been a forerunner in the Indian Passenger Car Market and challenging it’s dominance in the highly monopolistic and government-regulated industry during the late 1990s was an impossible feat. However, only 1 OEM could present a tough fight to the leader – HYUNDAI. And the product that led Hyundai’s onslaught was Santro! This so called ‘Small Car’ made such a big impact that it helped Hyundai achieve over 10% Market Share right within the first year of Hyundai’s operation! It not only helped the Korean Auto Major achieve record breaking sales, but also strong profitability at an unprecedented pace.

Maruti v/s Hyundai in past 19 years (since the inception of Hyundai)

Recently, we went through the book written by the veteran BVR Subbu (Santro – The Car That Built A Company) and got to know several interesting trivia about the Indian Auto Industry. Mr. BVR Subbu is known as the face of Hyundai in India and has been regarded as the architect of the group’s phenomenal success in India. He built the Hyundai brand in India from scratch and spearheaded the success of the Santro. Before talking more about Santro, lets look at the interesting bits from the book:

The incidents that led the road for Maruti’s dominance in the late 1990s –

  1. Tata Motors turning down a government offer to produce a small car in 1965
  2. Government rejecting Tata Motors’ proposal in 1985 to ‘manufacture’ cost-competitive, technologically advanced cars in a JV with Honda Motors, Japan
  3. Mercedes-Benz dropping out of a JV plan with Tata Motors in the 1990s to develop a compact car

Reasons for Hyundai’s instant success in the Indian Market –

  • While other Global OEMs were focusing on bringing in their sedan-based lineups into the Indian market, Hyundai’s understanding of the Indian market was better and launched the entry segment car Santro which helped it gain significant volumes right from the launch.
  • While Global biggies Ford, GM & Honda had largely assembly operations in the 1990s; Hyundai  made huge investments to set up ‘integrated manufacturing’ operations with localisation levels of over 80% in the first year itself!
  • Hyundai has also been known to offer latest technologies & features since day 1! Technology such as multi-jet fuel injection (vs. prevalent carburettors), Euro-2 compatible models, and power steering (prevalent only in high-end models then) was offered from Santro itself.
  • Hyundai also started with a relatively large network of 75 dealers, covering 90% of the market (by volume) by reducing its outlet size to lessen the upfront investments required and ensure dealer viability.
  • Hyundai’s decision to go solo (as against opting for JV partnerships with Indian houses as others did) together with strong and quick support from all global departments (R&D, finance, marketing, etc) facilitated the company’s keen focus, and organisational speed and agility in India.
  • Vendor development strategy on two specific planks – a) to commit single-source procurement in order to provide economies of scale, and b) to use well-developed existing Indian suppliers as far as possible. In other cases, Hyundai facilitated partnerships between its Indian and Korean vendors to ensure seamless transfer of quality processes and working methods.

Role of luck in Santro’s/Hyundai’s launch success – 

  1. Every product requires a little bit of luck to achieve success. The Santro received it in the form of a Supreme Court order that effectively allowed only Euro-2 vehicles to be registered in the NCR, effective June 1999. As the technology was available with its parent, HMI moved swiftly to showcase its technological advantage in the market as “Engineered for Euro-2”.
  2. Even after massively slashing the price of the Maruti Zen post the Santro’s entry – had created enough pricing headroom for a highly localized manufacturer to attain at least break-even pricing even at the product launch stage.
  3. A tussle between Suzuki Corporation and the government of India over the sale of stake in Maruti during late 1990s (which also allegedly delayed the launch of the Wagon R, which was introduced as a competitor to Santro) and manufacturing-quality issues that plagued Tata Indica, which had received strong customer response, also contributed to the success of the Santro.

Maruti had almost bought Hyundai India operations – 

  • Hyundai group had faced an existential crisis during the Asian meltdown. Indian government regulations requiring Hyundai India to have a significant portion of their debt locally also proved a challenge, as global banks were unwilling to lend to the Indian subsidiary.
  • While the Indian team did eventually secure finance from local Indian banks, continued stress on the parent company along with investment requirements at Hyundai almost forced the former to sell its India operations to Maruti. The parent and its banks retained Hyundai India only due to their inability to secure a fair price for the operations back in the day.
  • Moreover, Santro’s sales picked up significantly once Euro-2 vehicles were made mandatory. This ensured strong profitability and liquidity for the company, and it did not looked back again.

So, how did Santro actually contribute to Hyundai’s volumes –

Santro’s volume trend in it’s 17 years existence in the Indian market
Santro’s contribution to Hyundai India’s volume over the years
  • Over 13 Lakh Santro’s were sold in 17 years!
  • Santro is based from Global Atos hatch. In 2003, the first generation (Zip) was replaced with the second generation Atos Prime, marketed in India as the Santro Xing, which enjoyed great sales success.
  • In its final few years, Santro had become a popular option as a hatchback taxi, and the car was still selling close to 30,000 units per year when Hyundai made the decision to discontinue production.
  • 16,838 was the highest volume Santro had achieved in a specific month (March 2006). Co-incidentally, Hyundai sold the highest number of Santro’s in the year 2006!
  • Santro single handedly managed Hyundai’s volumes in India. In the first 10 years (i.e. 1998-2017); 76% of Hyundai India’s sales was contributed by Santro! (out of 11,40,116 Hyundai’s sold, 8,62,428 cars were Santro’s)

The first brand ambassador for both Hyundai India & Santro was Shahrukh Khan. The first Hyundai product that Shah Rukh advertised for was the Santro hatchback, which turned out to become Hyundai’s most successful product in India. It is also one of the longest Carmaker-Brand Ambassador partnerships yet!

One of the first Hyundai-Shahrukh Ad:

Product TVC: