Fit For India, Says Honda

New Delhi, October 21: | Updated: Oct 22 2002, 05:30am hrs
Latching on to global auto market trends that mark a shift from sedans, Honda Siel is working on the launch of its first non-sedan in India. The two-box car, already being sold under Fit brandname in Japan, is expected to be priced around Rs 5 lakh in two engine variants of 1.3 litre and 1.5 litre.

We feel that Fit will be the perfect car for India and we are trying to evaluate market demand for it, Honda Siel Cars India president and CEO, Hajima Yamada told FE in an interview.

The Fit is selling around 20,000 units per month in Japan and is expected to unseat the 34-year market leader Toyota Corolla (sedan) this year.

It is a tough target to make a small car with a retail tag of Rs 3.5 lakh in India, as even the price of 660cc Honda Life a smaller car would be over Rs 4 lakh here, Mr Yamada said, explaining why the new car would make a better fit for a market like India.

The 1-year-old Fit has become popular in Japan because of its spacious interiors, mileage, driveability, comfort and is pitched against the Toyota Vitz and Nissan March. The base version 1.5 million yen Fit is the most popular in Japan.

Industry watchers put it as Hondas interpretation of the Mercedes A-class after it was launched. In Japan, the Honda Fit comes with a 1.3-litre engine with acronyms - i-VTEC and i-DSI intensive combustion technology. The company claims it achieves 23 km per litre of petrol. In India, Honda Siel is looking at launching the 1.3 litre Fit. The Honda City, which was the companys launch vehicle in India, is powered by the same two engine options that drive the Fit.

Safety features include a centrally positioned fuel tank, and a body claimed to withstand a full-frontal barrier collision at 55km/h, a side offset collision at 64km/h, side impacts at 55km/h and rear collisions at 50 km/h, according to the company. Twin front airbags are standard. The rear seats fold in a 60:40 split, and can be folded flat, to make the most of the interior space.

Regarding the sports utility vehicle, Honda CRV, the company is still to take a decision as its application is still pending with government.