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New Honda City – Car of the Year 2014

Note – Individual Brand and OEM sales mentioned above are calculated from the month since the nominee was launched. Ex: The sales of Datsun GO shown is the offtake figure from Mar’14 to Nov’14, simultaneously OEM sales indicate Nissan+Datsun cars offtake from Mar’14 to Nov’14. Similarly Celerio’s figures shown here is from Jan’14 to Nov’14 and OEM sales highlight Maruti’s sales from Jan’14 to Nov’14.

Our Winner in the list is undoubtedly the 2014 Honda City. The fourth generation city had something different from all its siblings from the previous generations – a new diesel heart which proved to be the game changer for the Japanese automaker. And to be fair enough it was not only the diesel engine, but the overall package that made the comeback a huge success. To highlight on its success and acceptability – City outsold the much cheaper Amaze in 9 out of 11 months since its launch! Also City easily outpaced the other cars in the segment (say Verna, Linea, Vento, Rapid, etc). Maruti has made a bold attempt to challenge City’s dominance with Ciaz, but we are sure City will easily remain at the top slot for immediate future as well. The significance of City can be understood by the contribution it has to Honda’s overall sales – The New City contributes to hefty 40% of Honda’s sales in India. This one product had always defined the OEM’s performance in the sub-continent since its presence and the New City lives upto its legacy.

Datsun announced its big ticket plans for India & World by launching its entry level hatchback – Go. The expectations were huge for the new brand under the Nissan management, and got the right set of eyeballs in the beginning. The launch price was also attractive and had the right set on ingredients (like big on space, mileage and great specifications) to make it big in the Indian market. However, because of its poor sales network, improper brand building, lack of strategy led to the downfall in sales. The carline is averaging petty ~1k units in past 6 months and the future remains a concern. It however contributes to 32% of overall Nissan sales since its launch and with the Go+ launch in the anvil, we believe it’ll benefit from the collective presence.

What City did for the Honda brand in India, similarly Scorpio was for M&M – it established M&M in the big leagues of passenger car makers in India and wouldn’t be wrong to say that Scorpio has a significant contribution in making M&M as one of the top 3 Auto OEM’s in India! The carline saw many updates since its launch in 2002 and the 2014 update was the most comprehensive one. It completely overhauled its interiors and made the package more premium. It now could easily challenge the newcomers (say Duster, Terrano, etc) which were questioning Scorpio’s dominance in the segment. Similar to City, Scorpio did not see any major updates in the interiors and the changes were pretty significant only in the inside.

Zest becomes the most important launch for Tata – the carline is a do-or-die product for the brand and the OEM treated it as one! The car answered all the questions that were raised against the brand (quality, looks, features, price & maintenance). It got many customers which otherwise wouldn’t had thought about a product from the Tata’s stable. Zest slowly but confidently has made incremental numbers for the OEM and the trend looks positive in the coming months as well. It is already contributing to 29% of the sales and is bound to increase with rationalizing of production.

The Indian’s love for MUV got a whole lot sweeter with Honda betting big in the segment. The launch of Mobilio made Honda’s portfolio the strongest since its footsteps on the Indian soil. Honda now had a product offering in every segment! (hatchback-Brio, entry level sedan-Amaze, sedan-City, MUV-Mobilio & SUV-CRV). The price though was questioned by many as it was priced quite higher than the Ertiga and the top-end Mobilio cost as high as Rs. 15 lac! (on-road). The carline contributed to overall 27% of Honda’s sales since its launch.

Elite i20 – as its tagline says, has been ‘uncompromising’ on all fronts and has the most extensive update the carline has ever seen till date! The car offers so much that it puts many C-segment sedans to shame. Even with the ultra-premium price tag, it easily overtook the sales of the cheaper offerings (named grand i10, Xcent, Eon & i10!) at many occasions since its launch. To make the whole dealer sweeter, the Elite crossed the 10k figure for the first time since its launch in Nov’14. The car undoubtedly is the best package that any car offers in the segment and offers great potential for Hyundai to explore (did we say elite i20 sedan or a crossover?).

Hyundai Xcent carried the brand salience of grand i10 and promised to offer everything that Grand offers with much more practicality. Xcent tried to position itself between grand and i20 and stood as an attractive prospect in the country’s fastest growing segment (sub-4m sedan category). It caught significant attention immediately after launch and posted enviable numbers. However, the positioning went weak post launch of elite i20 and the sales chart experienced variance. The carline contributed 16% of Hyundai’s sales since its launch.

Toyota was always the D-segment leader with Corolla, but the carline had never seen some big changes since launch. The New Corolla Altis was the answer Toyota sought for the brand. The futuristic design and features made it an instant hot seller and bought numbers which were unseen by the segment in a long time (crossed 1k figures simultaneously in Oct’14 & Nov’14).


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