Honda Jazz / Fit – A global success, but what went wrong in India? – Report
Honda Fit/Jazz has been the Japanese OEM’s best selling hatchback in the world! But, what happened in India?
Honda Jazz which is known as ‘Fit’in global markets, is a five-door B-segment hatchback manufactured since 2001 and now in its fourth generation. It is currently sold globally and manufactured at ten plants in eight countries! Honda primarily uses the “Jazz” nameplate in markets such as Europe, Oceania, the Middle East, Africa, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and India; while the name “Fit” is used in Japan, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan and the US. The cumulative sales is across 70 Lakh units among Honda’s top markets!
The first generation Fit/Jazz debuted in June 2001 at Japan. It won itself the Car of the Year Japan Award.
The launch was so successful in Japan that by December 2001, it had outsold Japan’s best selling Toyota Corolla, and ranked first in sales for nine out of twelve months in 2002!
With a total sales of 2,50,790 for the year of 2002 – Honda Fit became the best-selling vehicle in Japan, which was a first for a Honda model.
The cumulative sales for the Fit in Japan has crossed 28 Lakh units till 2019!
China emerged as the second biggest market for the Honda Fit and has sold near to 1.2 million units till end of 2019. Since 2016; China had even overtaken Japanese volumes for the model!
Honda Fit/Jazz has been highly successful in Europe and US as well.
Honda marketed the Jazz/Fit as “Small is the New Big” campaign. The USP of Jazz was its compact exterior proportions; while it had enough space inside to challenge some compact SUVs for room while getting significantly better fuel economy!
Jazz, a Global Success but in India?
Do note that the India’s best selling Honda was made on the Jazz platform! Yes; the Honda City shared the Honda’s global small car platform on which the Jazz was made. Indian Passenger vehicle market was dominated by hatchbacks and Honda thought that Jazz would be a perfect match for the Indian requirement. But what went wrong? –
Honda Jazz was initially launched in India in June 2009. But it came with 26 percent import content and that meant higher pricing for the model.
Indians though admired the model; were not ready to pay the premium for a ‘hatchback’! They would pay little more and go for the 3-box City.
The model lost on the ‘pricing’ part and wooed the customers away. The decelerating sales led to the discontinuation of the model by Feb 2013.
Honda again tried its luck in June 2015 and launched the Next-Gen Jazz. This time Honda was much cautious about the pricing and saw immediate benefit – Honda sold ~30k units in 2015 alone; while it has sold just 23k units in 5 years (previous gen model)!
However; Jazz faced tough competition from Suzuki’s Baleno and lost the race in terms of features and value proposition.
Maruti Suzuki priced the Baleno and launched it in the Nexa showrooms in October 2015. The higher feature list & lower price of the Baleno swooped the customers away from Jazz.
Honda had done another mistake of launching the 1.2 L engine on the petrol. This was not appreciated by Honda enthusiasts and lot of questions were raised on the quality level of the interiors too. Customers were also wary of features like ‘magic seats’ were made exclusive to the top end variant.
Now, Jazz is making an entry in a BS6 avatar with mild update –
The updated version of the Jazz is expected to come with LED headlamps & DRL. The front bumper too seems to be redesigned and shall house LED foglamps as well. The official launch of the BS6 Honda Jazz is likely to be delayed due to the ongoing Corona Virus lockdown situation in the country. Honda shall however launch the car in the coming month. The overall package offered by Jazz has made it one of Honda’s best seller globally and Honda shall now try its best to gain volumes in India as well. Premium Hatchback segment has been widely accepted by Indian consumers and Jazz should definitely not miss the bus.