New launches bring back fizz

Written by Malabika Sarkar | Malabika Sarkar | Updated: Jun 13 2009, 06:08am hrs
Domestic vechile sale
GM Corp has filed for bankruptcy, Toyota and Honda are downsizing operations in some countries, and all major car companies are facing the heat globally. While India hasnt been particularly immune from the dusty winds of recessionattributed to the worldwide consumer credit crunch amid a serious global financial crisisin recent months the automobile market has made some determined efforts to get its act together and take the growth story forward.

And June is turning out to be among the most eventful in recent months with the launch of a slew of cars across categories. General Motors India has launched the LPG version of their popular small car Chevrolet Spark. The Spark LPG comes in two variants1.0L PS priced at Rs 3.52 lakh and 1.0L LS priced at Rs 3.69 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). Both come with a certified, factory fitted LPG kit as well as the three-year/1,00,000-km standard company warranty, which is an industry first in the mini-car segment. Karl Slym, president & MD says, The launch of the LPG mode reiterates Chevrolets vision of moving towards environment friendly alternative fuels. With this, GM plans to continue to introduce variants of the Spark that target different groups of customers. GM is also scheduled to bring to India the Chevrolet Cruze in September

this year.

In the luxury segment, German premium car maker Audi has recently unveiled its luxury sports utility vehicle (SUV) Audi Q5. The Q5 is the sixth offering from the Audi portfolio in the country and is its second SUV to hit Indian roads. The Q5 comes with two engine types2.0 TFSI (petrol) for Rs 38,29,000 and 3.0 TDI (diesel) for Rs 44,19,000 (ex-showroom Mumbai). The Q5 will be competing against the BMW X3 in the market. In 2009, the company expects to sell 1,000 units of the A4 and A6 taken together; 400 units of the Q7 and around 100 units of Q5. The company has 12 dealerships across the country.

Toyota Motors launched its flagship model New Land Cruiser with a starting price of Rs 81.64 lakh (ex-showroom Thane). This launch would help us build our brand in the country, says a company spokesperson. The car comes with 4.5 L V8 engine and will be available in all major cities.

The most awaited launch was perhaps the Honda Jazz, known as the Fit in European markets. Jazz is the only small car model in Hondas portfolio in India. Launched in Japan in 2001, Honda Fit sold successfully in over 130 countries with cumulative sales of more than 2.8 million units. In India Jazz will be available in three variants and is priced between Rs 6.8 lakh and Rs 7.33 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). The supermini shares the same platform as the City and is powered by a 1.2 litre i-VTEC engine. We have brought the same global quality to India. As a package its an extremely attractive proposition, says a company spokesperson.

For auto enthusiasts theres more excitement in store.

Tata Motors is set to launch a new version of the Tata Indigo Vista. The Indigo Vista would be based on the Indica Vista platform and will be manufactured at the new Fiat-Tata joint venture facility at Ranjangaon in Maharashtra. The diesel version will be equipped with the 1.3l multi-jet engine of the Fiat Linea and the petrol variant would be equipped with the 1.4l petrol engine powering the current Tata Indigo. Needless to say, the pricing of the car would decide its fortune in India. This would be followed by the large hatchback Grande Punto from Italian major, Fiat. Launched in 2005 in the European markets, Grande Punto is a B-plus segment car. It is the largest selling hatchback in Europe and is understood to have significantly bolstered the fortunes of Fiat. The launch of the car is scheduled for June 17.

According to Abdul Majeed, auto analyst,PricewaterhouseCoopers,Launches would happen and launches should happen. Launches always excite the customer and also help companies maintain their market share. Auto manufacturers are looking at some more rationalisation in the excise duty structure and other taxes as well as access to credit at affordable rates.