Auto Expo 2010: Honda's small car to be 5-seater; but GM may 'Beat' it

Unveiling its 'Small Concept' prototype, Honda Motor Co confirmed an earlier Domain-b report that it will be aggressively priced at well under Rs5 lakh. Today, the car was shown to be a five-seat family car.

Honda markets itself as a premium brand in India, where it is a minor player with sales of just 58,285 cars in January-November of last year, giving it a market share of 2.9 per cent. But like most other car majors, it has changed its tune to suit the Indian market - and taxation regime, which is strangely based on body size rather than engine capacity.

But undercutting it in price is GM's new Chevrolet Beat, also showcased today. After being a fringe player in the Indian car market for over a decade, General Motors – so far known for the large and spacious cars that Americans in particular have always favoured – has also decided on a change of profile.

The basic model of the Beat will be priced at just Rs3.34 lakh, below rivals like Hyundai's i10 and Maruti's Ritz and Swift.

The 1.2-litre petrol-engine Beat is GM's most ambitious bid at the big-number compact segment. GM's India managing director Karl Slym said the model was likely to sell between 4,000 and 5,000 models a month, which would make it GM's highest-selling model in India..

"The Beat can be a real game changer in the Indian mini-car segment,'' Slym said.

The Beat carries 60 per cent of local content now, which will go up to 90 per cent by the year-end, Slym said. For GM, this is the second significant launch in India over the last six months - it drove in the Cruze sedan in October last year.