Column : The novelty factor

Written by Yogima Seth | Updated: Jun 11 2009, 05:00am hrs
The passenger car industry in India has evolved to a point where new launches have become a major growth driver for all car manufacturers. So, whether it is a big volume player like Maruti Suzuki India or premium car manufacturers like Honda Siel Cars India and Fiat India Automobiles, it is only new models launched at frequent intervals that have been fetching volumes for these players in the recent past. And will likely continue to play a major role in the near future. No wonder that manufacturers who have new launches lined up for the near future have reasons to be happy despite the snail pace growth of the passenger car industry so far. Going by figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, Maruti Suzuki India registered a 10.35% growth in domestic sales last month at 70,785 units on the back of its recently launched Ritz and A-Star, against a 0.79% decline in total passenger vehicle sales in India in May. Likewise, Honda Siel Cars India managed to grow by 3.3% at 4,073 units because of the success of its recently launched Honda City while sales of Fiat India Automobiles surged by 154.88% mainly on the account of Linea and Fiat 500.

Not just this, it is new products in the small or compact car category which are drawing more customers into the fold as they fall easy on pockets at a time when lending rates continue to be high and hovering between 10% and 14%. So, how will the passenger car industry shape up in the next few months It would not be surprising if it bounces back to low double-digit growth, courtesy several new cars that will hit the road in the rest of the year. While we have Jazz, the premium compact car, coming up from Honda on Wednesday, Fiat will unveil the much awaited Grand Punto next week and this high-end compact car will be followed by the worlds cheapest car,, the Nano, if Tata Motors keeps up its commitment of starting the delivery of the vehicle from July. Even General Motors India, which has been facing a slowdown in sales as its parent company went bankrupt last week, can look up to great volumes when it launches the new high-end compact car, based on the Beat platform, by the end of 2009.

yogima.seth@expressindia.com