Pune: The unveiling of the world's cheapest car, Tata Motors' Nano at just over Rs1 lakh has made India one of the world's leading markets in the sales of small car.
This small car will have company at the premium end of the market too, with European majors bringing in their premium small cars.
Not to be left behind in the race, Volkswagen now plans to introduce the new Beetle, and BMW also wants to come out with its Mini. The New Beetle and the Mini are expected to carry premium price tags of around Rs20 lakh.
Andreas Prinz, managing director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, too has acknowledged the a positive demand and 'pressure' from the Indian market for Volkswagen to bring out a small car in the country.
Volkswagen is looking at importing the New Beetle, the iconic car that was truly the "people's car" in Germany. Import duties in India are the main reason for the car to be priced at approximately Rs20 lakh when it eventually makes it to Indian shores, as it will be imported as a completely built-up unit (CBU).
Due to low volumes estimated at the premium end of the small car segment, it is more likely that the car would be available with a single engine configuration, which will take some analysis on the part of Volkswagen, given the "different" road conditions in India.
Reports indicate that a possible market introduction could be on the anvil towards the end of 2008, or the beginning of 2009, as the company would need to "homologate" the New Beetle in order to avoid penalties.
Fiat India too is reportedly mulling plans to launch both the Fiat 500 and the Fiat Bravo in India. The new Fiat 500, also known as 'Baby Fiat' is a two-door, five-seater car, which comes to the Indian market with a starting price of Rs13 lakh.
The company is hopeful of launching the car by around May 2008 according to media reports, which also say that the cars are already undergoing homologation, which is a three month process. Commercial sales of the Fiat 500 are expected around May 2008.
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