luxury cars - All revved up?
Indian luxury car industry is all geared up. The reason is the launch
of Hyundai's Sonata and Honda's Accord, which will
create a whole new era of D segment luxury cars. And the market
will be aggressively competitive despite the low passenger car volumes
- a modest 5,000 to 7,000 cars a year - with car giants like Honda,
Ford and General Motors promising to dish out new and
more powerful cars.
The Indian car market has definitely come a long way in the past
two decades. Fifteen to twenty years ago, Ambassadors, Premier
Fiats held court. However with the intervention of Sanjay Gandhi,
Maruti Suzuki came to India. In 1989 - 90 came the Esteem
priced at Rs 4 to Rs 4.5 lakhs. Following it, were the Escort,
Mitsubishi Lancer and others. And the last two years have seen
a phenomenal growth in the A and B segments with the entry
of the Matiz, Indica and Santro. Then came the sensational
Qualis launched by Toyota. Despite a disadvantage
in appearance, it is often sported as a status and prestige symbol.
of now there are four dominant segments. In the A segment, there's
Maruti 800, Fiats and others. In the B segment, there's Santro,
Matiz and Tata Indica. Ford Escort, Mitsubishi Lancer, Ford Ikon,
Mercedes and others are the ones in the C segment.
But with bigger and highly disposable incomes, with people who
most often travel in Opel Astras and Honda Citys willing
to graduate to more expensive cars, the D segment car manufacturers
have chosen the right time to make their presence in the market.
Two companies that have made an entry of late in this segment are
Hyundai with the Sonata and Honda with the Accord.
These giants believe that their target audience will not mind shelling
out Rs 12-16 lakh for experiencing the best of the automotive sensation.
price war that has begun with these new entries had its beginnings
with the launch of the Mercedes C class, priced at Rs 19,90,000
(ex-showroom, Mumbai). Before this, all that was required was to
pick an exact price from the huge gap that existed in the market
between the most expensive car - Mercedes Benz S320L at Rs 62 lakh
(their least expensive until recently was the E220CDI priced at
Rs 30,46,509) and the next expensive one was the Mitsubishi Lancer
variant priced at Rs 9,94,719. Comparing prices from launch of the
Esteem, a definite trend shows that prices drastically increased
by Rs 6-8 lakhs with every new launch.
the introduction of the Mercedes C class changed the whole pricing
gamut. Even the Honda Accord, despite being in the D segment, is
priced Rs 5 lakh below the C class. However the group can bank on
its international popularity and brand status in India, to give
them a head start. It is also a more powerful car with a 2.3 litre
engine. All these factors perhaps give it an upper hand over the
However Hyundai is also a very strong brand in India thanks to
Santro. It launched the Sonata in mid-July with a pricing of Rs
12-13.4 lakh. With over two lakh cars in the Indian roads, Hyundai
can today boast of an unparalleled product support network, says
Hyundai Motors Director (Marketing) BVR Subbu. He is confident
that the Sonata would be a great success in India.
Despite their recent launch, both the cars have done exceptionally
well. Accord, within a few weeks of launching, had already
sold 300 units. And according to sources, Sonata has created
enough interest within 10 days of its launch for Hyundai to deliver
55 units in July alone. This spurt in sales clearly indicates the
interest and the excitement that has been created in the car market.
Now we shall await the much talked about car - Ford Mondeo.
Here's cheers to a revved up industry!
Source: The Economic Times, Business Today and others