2011 – A year of Launches
Year 2011 will be always be remembered as the most crucial year in Indian Automobile Industry. It experienced the launch of segment-defining products and changed the overall perspective of the industry. No one had shaken Honda’s dominance in C-segment till date. Suddenly Fortuner fears its dominant as the most sought after Premium-SUV position is at stake. Alto slowly seems to ‘let it go’ and out of the blue entry-level car segment isn’t all that “entry-level”; we have an offering that oozes a lot more style/premium-ness than its costlier competitors.
A brief line up of the launches in 2011 –
Hyundai’s all new fluidic design philosophy was showcased by the launch of New Fluidic Verna. With the right pricing, attractive design and striking diesel variant, it overtook Honda’s indomitable City within months of its launch
Mahindra’s target to become an aspirational brand was strengthened with a giant “Cheetah” leap – XUV 500. The XUV ‘five double ohh’ not only re-defined Mahindra’s engineering process but also welcomed to the league of PREMIUM car makers. This surely has provided M&M a strong foundation before the launch of its international brands in lieu with Ssangyong.
We were all anticipating a worthy competitor to the King of entry-level hatchs. Hyundai’s codenamed HA was one of the most awaited launch of the year. The product was launched as EON. The fluidic design philosophy was carried over by Verna and the breakthrough pricing has made it all more luscious.
Ford after its success of Figo, wanted to replicate the same with its sedan offering – Kinetic Fiesta. The Fiesta had already tasted success internationally and the extrovert Kinetic design was a sure eye-turner. But the product couldn’t really make a dent in Indian Scenario due to over-the-box pricing and cramped interior space.
Maruti’s second generation Swift had a Blockbuster launch. The longer and roomier swift has garnered over a lakh bookings till date. But the labor unrest at the plan disturbed the deliveries and has left a majority of its customers waiting for it.
Renault launched two of its premium offering – Fluence and Koleos. While both the products couldn’t bring numbers to the auto maker; Renault surely wants to build its image as a Premium Car Manufacturer.
Nissan’s Micra and Sunny proved to be instant successes. Even with its petite dealer network it has amassed an average of more than 1000 numbers for Micra and Sunny. As its network expands, we can expect more numbers and newer product launches.
VW wants the top OEM slot internationally by 2018. India as a market plays a very vital role for VW for turning its vision to reality. Hence it has been very aggressive in its strategies in the sub-continent. Be it dynamic network expansion, break-through marketing or slew of launches – VW is trying all means to gain the market/mind share. This year Vento allowed VW to establish itself as a serious competition in the lucrative C-segment. Even the new Passat marginally increased the numbers and stood a threat to its sister brand Superb.
Skoda is leaving no stone unturned to churn numbers in Indian Market. It has learnt from its mistakes and have implemented its learnings this year – a price cut was seen in its hatch-offering ‘Fabia’. Also the Octavia-replacement ‘Rapid‘ is expected to be priced competitively. With its mini-limousine type space and the Skoda badge, we expect the Rapid to heat up the competition in the C-segment.
The Firodia’s led company launched the Force-One. The premium SUV has the design cues from the Chinese Guangdong Foday and the Benz-engine had high hopes from the product. But again the value-conscious Indian market couldn’t see value in the offering and the mass-mover brand image of Force acted as hurdles in its way to establish Force One as a Premium SUV.
Toyota’s ambitious ‘Made for India’ products Etios and Liva was also made public this year. Toyota’s expansion plans in India is backed by these two products. Toyota has almost grown more than 50 percent this year. Although both the Etios & Liva are bringing numbers to the Japanese car maker; but in sight to get the prices down the quality has degraded as well.
Honda’s new hatch ‘Brio‘ has a lot of expectations riding on it. With a competitive price and cute looks it has already harvested more than 5000 bookings.
There were also some very exciting launches in the Luxury Car space. My personal favorite was the Indian launch of Range Rover Evoque. I believe there would be no other car in the world that would be as similar as its prototype/concept model.
We expect the trend of launches to continue in 2012. Around more than 50 launches are planned this year. The Snapshot is as mentioned below –