The C-segment was a comparatively dull segment earlier and the volumes here were never that significant. Also the segment was majorly dominated by Honda’s City wayback since 1998 itself. Many OEMs tried their luck here, but volumes were never that encouraging. However, many OEMs performance still depends on the sales performance of their respective offerings in the segment – To name a few Honda (City), Skoda (Rapid), VW (Vento), etc where the models contribute ~50% of their overall sales. The segment was again ruled by the so called ‘PREMIUM’ car manufacturers since the beginning (erstwhile Opel Astra, Chevrolet Optra, Toyota Corolla, etc were preferred during their times). Mass market OEMs always wanted to have a major pie in this segment – Hyundai was successful with its Verna (for a limited period) and even the SX4 was Maruti’s attempt to break into this category.
But only 1 model evolved to be the undisputed leader in the category – Honda’s City. It sold over 6.5 lakh copies since 1998 and is still going strong. However, Maruti changed the dynamics in the segment and gave Honda a good run for its money. It clearly outsold the market leader in 2016 – Ciaz sold 63,187 units in the year 2016 when compared to 57,619 units of Honda City sales within the same period. Ciaz’s more feature and lesser price played the trick and made it the market leader.
Let us see what helped Ciaz gain the lead in 2016 –
Fuel Efficiency: With SVHS for Diesel and lower spec Petrol, Ciaz raised the bar in Fuel Efficiency and offered segment best figures. Petrol claimed ARAI mileage of 20.7 kmpl and Diesel Hybrid offered a mileage of 28.09 kmpl. These kind of fuel efficiency figures were literally unheard in the segment.
Price: With SVHS, Maruti could play the price card much better – with subsidies for Hybrid vehicle; the Diesel Ciaz was now almost equivalent priced to the Petrol variant! This allowed the customers (particularly from Tier 2 & Tier 3 cities which were Maruti’s stronghold) to easily upgrade to a C-segment sedan.
Feature-rich: It evolved to be the widest and longest car in the segment. Also it offered projector headlamps as standard in all the variants. Higher spec variants also offered a much advanced 7’inch Infotainment system (compared to smaller 5’inch system in City).
Maruti’s Network: All are aware about Maruti’s enormous Dealer Network. This particularly helped Maruti gain in-roads in Rural market where Honda was comparatively weak.
Maruti Service & Reliability: It became a big factor for customers who were upgrading to the segment. Low maintenance assurance and ease of service worked for Maruti.
Honda’s retaliation was in Feb 2017 – It launched the mid life facelift for the City and launched it on 14th Feb. As the dispatches of the new model started in Jan’17 itself the Japanese OEM was able to garner significant volumes in the first 2 months of 2017. As of now, it has overtaken Ciaz numbers by a thin margin and regained the No.1 position in the segment. Between Jan’17-Feb’17, City has sold 12,640 units v/s 12,416 units of Ciaz.
With City 2017 launch Honda announced features which were again unheard in the segment. It became the only car in the segment to offer LED headlamps, Sunroof, etc. Also the stellar safety package of 6 airbags and larger alloy wheels helped it differentiate itself. The USP of the brand still lies with the i-Vtec Petrol engine. And the pricing announced for the Petrol Variants was nothing less than mouth-watering. However, the Diesel variants are priced steeply when compared to Ciaz counterpart. Lets see how the New City fares in Pricing –
The Price Difference was also highlighted by Honda’s Top Executive, Mr. Ueno in a press conference last month – “That company (Maruti) has gained from using regulations to its advantage. The petrol City sells several times more than Ciaz petrol version, while that company is selling more diesel models because of the subsidies, Excise duty benefits as well as the incentives arising from the FAME scheme, while we get none of them. So they can play the price game as well.”
We did a comparison of the Variant-wise sales of these 2 models and the findings is as shown –
Maruti Ciaz Sales for Jan’17 & Feb’17:
Honda City Sales for Jan’17 & Feb’17:
It is clearly seen that Diesel variants contribute to over 64% of Ciaz sales! And in absolute numbers, it sells over 2.5 times that of City Diesel. Similarly, City is the clear winner in Petrol – its sales is almost double that of Ciaz Petrol. While the market is shifting towards Petrol, we see that City will slowly maintain its hold in the segment and sustain the leadership position. It would also be interesting to see on how Maruti will fare its Ciaz with Nexa and what updates could be seen in the upcoming Ciaz facelift as well. In short, it is going to be an interesting contest ahead!