New launches to add to April heat in car mart

Mumbai, Mar 30 | Updated: Mar 31 2007, 06:12am hrs
The month of April, which heralds the new fiscal, is set to witness a flurry of vehicle launches from car manufacturers in the country. In the first week of the month itself, along with the launch of the Logan from the Mahindra-Renault stable, Korean auto major Hyundai is launching its Getz Prime, while Italys Fiat is unveiling its new Palio Stile.

All these offerings come close on the heels of a spate of high-end car launches at the fag end of March from BMW, DaimlerChrysler and Skoda. Industry analysts say that this bundling of vehicle launches, across various segments of cars, signifies the high frequency of product offerings in a growing market and a competitive approach to woo customers with upgraded variants.

What we are seeing is a small part of what is a global phenomenon, called model proliferation, explains VG Ramakrishnan, director, automotive and transport practice, Frost & Sullivan. Current and high end players launch new versions of their vehicles every year with contemporary styling to ensure that products do not lose their charm. Customers are increasingly getting exposed to global trends and demand relevant products.

The new offerings will surely add more bite to the already highly competitive environment in the automobile industry. According to Huziafa Suratwala, an analyst with Emkay Share & Stock Brokers, pricing is going to hold a key here. For instance, if the pricing of Logan is decided at around Rs 4.5 lakh as talked about before, both Maruti Esteem and Tata Indigo may get into re-pricing. And even Maruti would keep a close eye on the pricing of Getz Prime, said Suratwala.

With Renaults engineering and Mahindras established dealer network expected to offer good after-sales-service and reliability, the Logan may prove to be a tough competitor to Maruti Esteem and Tata Indigo. Adds Ramakrishnan, According to me, the Logan should offer good value for money. The new hatchback from Hyundai, Getz Prime will be pitted against its Japanese rival Maruti Suzuki Swift and GMs Chevrolet U-VA.

Logan would be available in both petrol (1.4L and 1.6L) and diesel variants (1.5L). Hyundai Getz Prime would be available in a petrol version only with two engine variants - 1.1 litre and 1.3 litre enabling it to partly qualify for the benefits on excise duty. It would be available for the domestic as well as the export markets in Europe. Towards the third quarter, Hyundai has plans to also launch the diesel variant of Getz Prime with 1.5 litre common rail direct injection (CRDi) engine.

With Fiat tying up with Tata Motors, the Italian company will look at leveraging Tatas wide network for distribution and after sales service, analysts added.