You may be wondering whether the year & car is mentioned wrongly in the title – No, it is absolutely right! While; all major publications/channels are announcing the Car of the Year 2019; we would like to have the privilege to share our Car of the Year 2018 for a very simple reason that – We have substantial data to compare the sales volumes of the cars launched in 2018. And the detailed Report Card for the Cars Launched in 2018 is as shown –
“Sales performer, amongst the cars launched in the year 2018 goes to…. Maruti Ertiga!”
Since in 2019 the market de-grew, we have taken industry de-growth figure as yardstick for assessment. For apple to apple comparison monthly average figure is considered.
It is among the 10 best-selling cars in the world, but performance in India, is quite underwhelming.
In India, diesel engine is always considered as a vital ingredient for successful big SUV recipe. Honda-India, finally got that ingredient in 2018, for 4th generation (India) CRV. But vital ingredient – drivetrains, are flawed in CRV’s case. CVT transmission spoils the performance of petrol engine (154 PS output) and diesel engine is out rightly underpowered (mere 120 PS output – Hyundai Creta has 128 PS Diesel Automatic engine at 15.22 Lakhs ex-showroom Delhi).
Irony, first two generations performed better than the current generation, even without diesel power plant, that too in a market which was far too less mature for premium petrol powered SUV.
And the high asking price has not gone well with Indian buyers at all, huge cash discount of 5 lakhs INR (announced on website!), just corroborate this.
Maruti has basically used enriched ingredients for 2nd generation Ertiga – bigger, more powerful and fuel efficient engines (1.5L Petrol & 1.5L Diesel), more space for 3rd row of seat, distinct styling (different from siblings – Swift & Dzire), and then served at right price. And of course, a well thought out derivative in the form of XL6, which added incremental numbers in 2019.
Though it is an apple to orange comparison, but Ertiga has had garnered, much-much better sales volume, than Toyota Innova, that too in a challenging year.
It is performing better in 2019, in otherwise challenging market, where segment leader Maruti Dzire suffered severe volume loss on account of automobile industry recession.
Yet, Honda Amaze is far too distant from segment leader Maruti Dzire. Statistics shows, that Amaze has actually eaten into the market share of the weakest players.
What actually helped the cause, is, American Honda Accord inspired design. Certainly, Indian buyers love American or European design language.
Alturas is basically Mahindra’s owned Ssangyong brand’s SUV Rexton, with Mahindra badge.
For an SUV – it is big, looks brute, has an inviting interior with all bells and whistles along with a powerful engine, and undercuts competitor’s price as well.
Still it is stuck, at one third mark of facelifted Ford Endeavour. Only reason that comes to mind is – Mahindra Badge Value or in other words – Brand image (how consumer perceive the brand, for example – Toyota Fortuner redeems the price premium it charges with good resale value, even without sunroof).
However, Alturas has eaten into mighty Toyota Fortuner’s market share. So, can Alturas build that brand image in long term for Mahindra, with all those good product attributes mentioned earlier, only time will tell or has Mahindra missed the opportunity to create a sub-brand (high stake) for premium category products?
With every passing generation, Swift is becoming a much stronger brand in itself.
As per Global NCAP ratings, current generation of Indian Swift (with 2 front airbags) is safer than the previous generation (test car with – 0 airbag). 2 star out of possible 5, is still disappointing for such a popular car, which by no means can be considered as cheap in India. And for those 2 stars, special thanks goes to, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways – India, forcing every passenger car maker to provide front airbag and ABS as mandatory safety equipment.
Legendry Santro, the product which build a company in India, transformed the PV industry, from sellers’ market to buyers’ market, sadly, is no more a legend in present avatar. Santro is struggling, to even keep up with the traditional rival – Wagon R’s second fiddle, Celerio.
Looking at i20, Creta and Venue, Hyundai could have done a much better job on Santro, it is Hyundai’s missed opportunity in design department to style Santro, in today’s much loved SUV frock. And yes, Maruti still has its trump card – fuel efficient, refined petrol engine which are nice to drive – that’s a technological competence.
Mahindra identified a sweet spot in MUV segment, both in terms of price and size, and that is – positioning in between Maruti Ertiga and Toyota Innova.
But by then, Maruti has changed the rule of game, with the new generation Ertiga. Ertiga offers similar in-cabin space, better 3rd row seating, slightly more boot space, similar equipment level, has much better fuel efficiency at the cost of power, and cost almost 3.5 lakhs INR less (diesel top-end). Now Marazzo is stuck in a spot, which doesn’t seems sweet anymore.
What is though commendable, is 4 star safety rating of Marazzo, where Maruti Ertiga scored just 3. But then, unfortunately, for large number of Indian buyers, safety is not top priority, for example – 2 star rated Maruti Swift still sells in large volume. Which makes the role of Government even more crucial to regulate the industry, not only for safety but also for emission standards.
An SUV, that doesn’t have much of visual appeal on 16” alloy wheel, having dated 6.1” touchscreen infotainment system, with a 10.2 kmpl claimed efficiency for a petrol engine coupled with CVT transmission, ‘outlandishly’ priced at 31.95 lakhs ex-showroom, is certainly a recipe for disaster, and guess what, it turned out to be a disaster. With cars like Pajero and Lancer, Mitsubishi brand still has cult following, but company is unfortunately not listening.
Mother of all flops! Brought to you by Toyota, maker of mighty Fortuner and Innova. Car was certainly overpriced, seems slightly dated in company of Honda City, Hyundai Verna, and Maruti Ciaz, and that killed its chance, immediately on arrival.
Even Maruti, had a better run in the past.
Well in past Maruti also had a lot of struggle (read : Baleno & SX4) to make a mark in the segment ruled by Honda City for years. But then Maruti finally got the ingredient and recipe right with Ciaz, in otherwise dying segment. So, when recipe and ingredients are so well known in the market, how Toyota could go so wrong?
(The article is written by Rohan Rishi. You can connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org)