new ''crossover'' vehicles coming into the Indian market
may cannibalise the sales of earlier models.
indication of the maturing of the passenger car mart
is the increasing popularity of estate vehicles. Hyundai
Motor India started the ball rolling by launching
the Getz followed by Tata Marina from Tata Motors.
Ford India has announced the launch of crossover vehicle,
Ford Fusion, in December this year while Toyota Motor
is planning to launch its Innova next year. The car
has received excellent reviews in Indonesia where
it was launched last month.
are not new to India. During the ''70s, Premier Padmini
and the grand old Ambassador had station wagons (as
they were called then) or estate versions. Tata Motors
or Telco, as the company was called earlier, had its
Tata Estate while Fiat after launching the Siena in
India introduced its estate version called the Fiat
Weekender. General Motors has its Corsa Swing, the
estate version of the Opel Corsa in the market.
have never been very successful in India. Part of
the reason is in the pricing. Carmakers have tended
to add a premium for the extended rear portion. A
notable exception, though is the Corsa Swing. General
Motors introduced the Swing in the same price slot
as the Corsa despite which its sales never took off.
For instance, in June this year, the company sold
just one unit of the Swing though sales have picked
up since and the car sold 16 units in September 2004.
reason for the lack luster response in the Indian
market towards estates is probably that these vehicles
are based on the same platform as the sedans. For
instance, the Siena Weekender is built on the same
platform as the Siena, the only difference being its
extended back instead of a booth. That is also the
case with the Corsa Swing and Tata Marina.
estates that are likely to make a mark are the Hyundai
Getz, the Ford Fusion and Toyota Innova. All these
are based on individual platforms and offer something
extra in teerms of space, size and features at an
success of SUVs in recent times (the Tavera, Scorpio
and Endeavour), has shown that the Indian consumers
prefer slightly bigger and more spacious vehicles
with high ground clearance. The Ford Fusion and Toyota
Innova are likely to appeal to customers who want
to combine the looks of a car with the spaciousness
of an SUV.
India has been touting the Fusion as having spacious
dimensions 172cm in width with a length of 402cm
against the Ikon, which is a good bit narrower at
163cm, but longer than the Fusion with a length of
414cm. The Getz on the other hand may look like the
Santro from a distance but has a bigger engine and
a body with an overall length of 381cm and a width
of 166cm. The Santro is smaller at 356cm in length
and a width of 152cm.
Accent is 425cm long and marginally wider than the
Getz at 167cm. However, with an 82bhp, 1300-cc engine,
the Getz is priced at Rs4.20 lakh, which fills the
gap in the market between the Santro and the Accent
in price and overall technical specs.
Tata Marina''s greatest advantage is its pricing, which
places it in the same price range as the Indigo
since the vehicle is basically an Indigo with an extended
back, there was no reason to price it higher. Tata
Motors may, however, find the Marina eating into the
sales of its sedan, the Indigo.
In the long run all the recent new launches are likely
to eat into the sales of older cars on account of
their newness and obvious advantages of space.
Motors has set a modest target of 4,000-6,000 units
sales in the current fiscal which analysts say is
highly achievable. Hyundai Motor has set a target
of 8,000 units for the Getz, but its response has
been so strong, that BVR Subbu, managing director,
says the company is planning to revise the target
upwards to 10,000 units.