In the sales game, premium hatches win matches

Honda, Maruti and Tata Motors look to strengthen segment

By: | Updated: March 21, 2016 12:33 PM

After the success of Hyundai i20 and Volkswagen Polo, automakers are betting big on premium hatchbacks with several new launches and upgrades in the pipeline.

For instance, Honda is expected to relaunch the Jazz in the next couple of months while Maruti Suzuki, maker of the Swift, will launch a new premium hatch, codenamed YBR, by the end of the second quarter. Even Tata Motors is expected to come up with a new product.

Honda is looking to strengthen its product portfolio with the refurbished Jazz in both petrol and diesel. The car will be built on a global compact platform, just like the City, and localisation levels are expected to be significantly higher. Honda is also expected to relaunch the Accord next year to expand its existing portfolio.

The premium hatchback segment accounts for 20% of total sales in the hatchback segment and there is enough space for players to come up with new products and upgrades.

Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice-president, marketing and sales, Honda Cars, said the premium hatchback segment grew 10% last fiscal year when the car industry grew around 5%.

“In the recent past this segment has been growing pretty fast and, with the launch of the Jazz,  the options available with customers will increase. This will help expand the segment.”

Analysts say hatchback customers are upgrading to compact SUVs as they have become more affordable. So, manufacturers are trying to hold on to their existing hatchback customers by providing them the same comfort and technology a compact SUV does.

Ajay Srinivasan, director, Crisil Reasearch, said the premium hatchback segment will continue to grow at a robust pace, and outpace the expected growth of 9-11% in the small car market in 2015-16.

“The availability of attractive features, similar to those in sedans and the easy manoeuvrability of hatchbacks on city roads makes premium hatchbacks an attractive proposition for customers," said Srinivasan.

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