24 June 2003
The launch of the Corsa Sail by General Motors India
(GMI) has lent some excitement to premium hatchbacks
again. The previous such launch was that of the Palio
by Fiat India in 2001.
the time Fiat India had the Siena and the Uno in the
market, both of which were witnessing stagnating sales.
When it was launched, the Palio worked wonders for Fiat
India, at least in the initial six months.
car helped Fiat sell 32,111 cars in 2002 as against
13,478 units in 2001 - an increase of 138 per cent.
Later, in June 2002, the company crossed the 4,000-mark
in car sales, registering a 605-per cent growth against
a total of 570 vehicles sold in the corresponding period
the total 4,020 cars sold in 2002, the Palio accounted
for 3,357 units, the Sienna 519 units, while the sales
of the Palio Adventure and the Uno were at 64 and 80
units, respectively. No doubt, the Palio - with its
engine size, brake horsepower and torque - was a winner
at least in the initial six months but at the same time,
significantly, the Siena's sales remained the same after
the launch and even after Fiat India came out with a
the Palio and the Siena are identical except that the
Palio is a two-box car while the Siena is a three-box
sedan. Both are built on Fiat's platform 178; all cars
built on this platform share the same spares and chassis.
While this minimises the cost of spares it also reduces
inventory-carrying costs. Another difference is that
the Palio is Rs 1 lakh cheaper than the Siena.
is little difference between the Opel Corsa and the
Corsa Sail. The 1.4-litre Corsa produces 88 bhp with
a torque of 110 nm at 3200 rpm and the same goes for
the Sail. Similarly, the upper variant of the Sail displaces
1598 CC and develops 91 bhp at 5600 revs and 12.6 kgm
at 3200 rpm. The Opel Corsa sedan's respective figures
has not been able to get into volumes sales with the
Opel Corsa mainly because till now it did not have a
product in the high-selling B segment with cars like
the Santro, the Indica and the Zen. For all the competition
that exists in the mid-size or C segment none of the
cars clock the kind of numbers that B segment cars do.
Thus, it almost seems that, GMI is using the Corsa Sail
as a quick low-cost method of entering the B segment
without introducing a completely new car.
vice-president P Balendran tells domain-b: "We
have pioneered the entry into the premium hatchback
segment based on the Indian customer's need for a small
car with premium class features." While the Corsa
Sail, with its tech specs, is an extremely good purchase,
it faces competition from the Palio, which is also positioned
as a premium hatchback.
is hoping that with the help of the Corsa Sail, it will
be able to double the sales of Corsa. During the launch
of the hatchback GMI managing director Aditya Vij said
the company intends to double the Corsa's sales to 15,000
units this fiscal, against 7,000 units clocked last
one hopes that GMI is able to realise its targets, the
positioning of the Corsa Sail in this segment indicates
the company's determination to capture the B segment
since, at its price, the Corsa is a good buy.
hatchback has been priced competitively against the
top-end model of the Hyundai Santro at Rs 4.39 lakh
for the 1.4-litre petrol version and Rs 4.65 lakh for
the 1.6-litre version and marginally lower or on par
with comparable models of the Fiat Palio. In terms of
brake horsepower, torque and engine size it is comparable
to mid-sized cars like the Maruti Esteem, the Honda
City or the Hyundai Accent.
Fiat Palio and the Corsa Sail, positioned as they are
in the upper end of the B segment, have actually blurred
the lines between the B and C segments - at least in
terms of tech specs.
urgency to position a car in the B segment may have
led to the launch of the Sail but the danger of the
Sail cannibalising the sales of Corsa sedan cannot be
minimised. Says Balendran: "A notchback buyer is
different from a hatchback buyer." Which means
there is a market out there for both the cars.
not giving any figures Balendran says the company has
received "an extremely enthusiastic and overwhelming
response on the Corsa Sail and our customer orders have
exceeded our initial targets."
there will always be comparisons between the Palio and
the Sail, as they are both premium hatchbacks, the matter
ends there. GMI is the Indian subsidiary of the world's
biggest automobile company with deep pockets. The company
has made significant investments during the last three
years to expanding its market presence.
company is in the process of increasing its capacity
at its Halol plant from the current 25,000 to 50,000
units per annum by 2005. It has already invested Rs
1,200 crore on the expansion project and will invest
another Rs 180 crore by the yearend to take the total
capacity to 50,000 units.
doubt, the deep pockets of GMI's parent will help it
ride smooth over the bumps and grinds in the Indian
market. And the conjecture is that GMI's attempts to
make a low-cost entry into the B segment may culminate
in the Opel Corsa exiting the C segment and another
GM model taking its place.