Honda launches new variant of City
NEW DELHI, Oct 7: Premium car-maker Honda Siel Cars India on Wednesday launched a new variant of its flagship model, City, price between Rs 9.53 lakh and Rs 10.25 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).
The new variant -- Exclusive -- of the Honda City will have many additional features vis-a-vis the regular one, such as leather seats and leather steering.
"Honda City is one of the most successful and desirable brands in the country. The 'Exclusive' variant is aimed at further delighting our customers with exclusive luxurious features during this festival period," Honda Siel Cars India Marketing Director Tatsuya Natsume said in a statement.
The existing Honda City was launched in September, 2009, and the company has sold about 54,000 units of the car since.
Vento adds to variety
CHENNAI, Aug 24: The Polo played a vital role in opening the innings for Volkswagen in India, but the Vento is a car of equal importance. VW recently revealed the Vento. We met up with the German car maker's head of development, Ulrich Hackenberg and the Vento near Tirupattur, Tamil Nadu, on a deserted stretch of bitumen that VW traditionally uses to hone the suspension of its Indian models.
VW came to the conclusion that the only way to make headway in countries such as India was with a unique platform structure. The changes to the Polo platform include a longer wheelbase and wider track and, of course, an all-new profile for the boot. The length is up by 96mm to over 4000mm and the wheelbase is 82mm longer to give it the sort of rear-seat legroom to challenge the best in class.
“We have developed the Vento specifically to suit the local market. We have listened to customers and attempted to combine typical German engineering with factors important to Indian car buyers,” said Hackenberg, who has particularly close links with India (Hackenberg's wife is from Chennai and he fondly relates stories about various motorcycle trips across India on his beloved Enfield.)
Vento will be offered with a choice of either a 1.6-litre four-cylinder multi-point injected petrol or a similarly sized common-rail diesel engine — both developing 105bhp. They are the same units offered in the new Polo in Europe and come mated to a standard five-speed manual gearbox that drives the front wheels. The 1.6-litre petrol motor will get a six-speed automatic option along with the five-speed manual gearbox too.
We tried the petrol engine. It's hardly new in terms of engineering but it suits the conservative nature of the Vento well, endowing it with performance. But with just 15kgm at a rather high 3800rpm, it struggles to deliver power at lower engine speeds.
Those seeking added go at lower speeds should try the diesel. With 19.88kgm of torque, it proves to be much more flexible and willing.
While retaining the same MacPherson strut suspension up front as the Polo, the Vento receives a torsion beam arrangement similar to that used on the fourth-generation Golf at the rear — a combination chosen for its toughness and overall lack of complexity, said Hackenberg. It's cheaper and easier to produce than the multi-link arrangement found on the current Golf.
The Vento on its 185/60R15 tyres feels pretty agile and fun to drive. The most promising feature in its dynamic repertoire, however, is the steering — an electro-mechanical system. It is the same as the one used in the latest Polo hatchback, and offers a sporty feel. It is quite light at low speeds but offers a heavier feel and good self-centering properties as speeds rise, which is not always the case with similar set-ups.
Generous ride height, a given in India due to the state of our roads, means there is more lean in corners and pitch under braking than in VW models engineered for European conditions. That said, the ride is superbly controlled. Overall, the level of refinement is highly impressive.
As for the interior, the general design reflects everything VW from Jetta upwards. But what really took us by surprise was the perceived increase in quality from even the Polo. The textures, materials and quality have considerably improved and the Vento feels spacious enough to take on competition.
The buttons, switches and vents on the dash come with additional metallic highlights framing them, as do the steering wheel and gearlever. This lifts the ambience of the entire cabin considerably. Between the seats rests an elongated elbow box and the Vento gets digital climate control as well.
But the biggest difference here is for rear seat passengers. There's plenty of legroom on offer, as well as abundant under-thigh support thanks to the flat, lightly contoured seat with its long squab. The latter will allow for comfortable three-abreast seating. There is an air-con vent for rear seat passengers and a unique feature that, as on a two-door car, allows someone sitting on the rear seat to use a lever and push the front passenger seat forward.
You also get reading lights and coat hooks but steering-mounted audio controls are missing. Boot space is only adequate as the suspension struts intrude a bit.
On first impression, the Vento is a car that should do well in India. Early sales estimates are for 45,000 units within the first year. With two trim levels on offer — Trendline and Highline — the Vento will roll out from VW's Chakan plant and is expected to be launched in India by Diwali and will be priced between Rs.7 lakh and Rs.9 lakh.
M&M signs pact to acquire SsangYong Motor
MUMBAI, Aug 23: Auto major Mahindra & Mahindra on Monday said it has entered into an agreement to acquire a majority stake in beleaguered South Korean vehicle maker SsangYong Motor Company.
In a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) said that it has “signed a memorandum of understanding with SsangYong Motor to acquire a majority stake in the South Korean SUV maker.”
The agreement will be followed by a detailed due diligence process and finalisation of definitive agreements, the filing added.
“We are committed to leveraging SsangYong’s strong competencies in R&D and technology by investing in a new SYMC product portfolio which will help us gain momentum in global markets,” M&M Automotive and Farm Sector President Pawan Goenka said.
He further said, “India is a rapidly growing SUV market and will create new growth avenues for SsangYong. The synergies between both the brands, which share a similar heritage, will make us a combine force to reckon with in the global utility vehicle space.”
Rothschild and Samsung Securities are advising M&M on the deal.
On August 12, M&M was chosen as the preferred bidder by SsangYong Motor. The company had said that deal is likely to be finalised by November this year but did not disclose the financials involved.
SsangYong Motor, which has SUV models like ‘Rexton’, ’Kyron’ and ‘Actyon’ and sedan ‘Chairman’, has been undergoing a court-led restructuring from 2009 after suffering heavily due to the downturn in auto industry.
China’s SAIC Motor Corp owns 10 per cent in the troubled automaker and about 70 per cent is held by creditors, led by state-owned Korea Development Bank.
SsangYong currently has two manufacturing facilities in South Korea and has 4,800 employees. It has 138 dealers in its home country, while 1,300 dealers are located across 98 nations. It sold 35,000 units in 2009.
M&M had said once the deal is done, it would consider bringing the premium SUVs from SsangYong Motor’s stable into India.
Shares of M&M were trading 2.02 per cent higher at Rs 630.25 a piece in late morning trade.
Mercedes Benz launches new E-Class
NEW DELHI, Aug 17: Bidding to strengthen its position in the Indian luxury car market, German carmaker Mercedes Benz on Tuesday launched a new version of its E-Class priced at Rs. 64.5 lakh (ex—showroom Delhi).
The new car E-Class Cabriolet — a four seater convertible with soft top — is the seventh offering within the E-Class range by the company in India.
“With its launch, the versatility of the E-Class range is further reinforced. The E-Class now offers the Cabriolet in addition to the already present E-Class Saloon and the E-Class Coupe,” Mercedes Benz India Managing Director Wilfried Aulbur said.
He said the company is looking to leverage on the booming market in India.
“In the Jan-July period this year we have had 80 per cent growth in sales. We are well poised to continue grow in double digits and are very confident of 2010,” Aulbur said.
Asked if the company can sustain the high growth momentum in the next five months of the year, he said: “We would like to continue the growth momentum but can’t predict how we will grow in the next five months.”
The existing E-Class range offered by the company in India is priced between Rs. 42 lakh and Rs. 50 lakh.
Mercedes benz rolled out the E-Class in India in 1995 and has sold over 12,700 units so far.
SkodaAuto celebrates Independence Day by organizing ‘Skoda Independence Drive’ in association with Shiel Ventures Ltd.
Maruti A-Star automatic launched, delivering peace of mind in city roads
NEW DELHI, Aug 17: Maruti Suzuki launched the automatic version of A –Star, its favorite small car. Maruti never thought that the little hatchback will soon become people’s favorite car when it launched A Star in India in 2008 and since then the vehicle continues to enjoy a decent fan following.
The car’s wins primarily due to its ability to manage on cramped urban roads and became a successful city slicker in very short time. Its small dimensions and lively handling makes it a true Star in city traffic. Now Maruti delivers a much needed upgrade by introducing automatic transmission to the A –Star. The feature hugely welcomed by those who want comfort and peace of mind while driving on congested city roads.
Recent trends have shown that big automaker are shifting their attention towards delivering automatic transmission to their hatchbacks such as i10 by Hyundai, Captiva by GM, Verna by Hyundai and Honda City. Even Maruti had earlier launched the automatic version of its SX4 and now A-Star gets the same.
The automatic A-Star comes with a 4 speed autobox for improved pick up and better performance. The driving pleasure is retained with its KB 10 engine but the car is slower and thirstier than the present version. The earlier A-Star returned a mileage of 19.8 kmpl whereas the automatic version gives you 17 kmpl which is quite less. But ignoring the fuel efficiency figures of the automatic A-Star one can enjoy fatigue free driving on city roads which is a small price to pay for the great comfort.
Priced at Rs. 4.35 lac (ex-showroom price in Delhi), the automatic A-Star may not be the cheapest automatic hatchbacks, but an affordable automatic vehicle. The version is definitely for those who demand pleasure driving in city roads especially women and older people.
VW Vento launch next month
NEW DELHI, Aug 17: Volkswagen is finally addressing the Indian market and the newest indication of that is the Vento, a new sedan specifically designed for India. Vento means wind in Portuguese.
The sedan is based on the same platform as the recently introduced Polo hatchback. However, it would be incorrect to simply call the Vento a Polo with a boot. The platform was engineered from the start to accommodate a sedan and a hatch.
I like the look of the car. Very simple yet bold lines define what looks like a very European design sensibility. The car isn’t flashy or drop-dead gorgeous, yet it’s smart and executive-like in its stance. And will hold its own in comparison with the futuristic-looking Honda City and even the prettier Fiat Linea. The Vento has been launched in three petrol and two diesel variants. The key difference being that the petrol Vento has an automatic transmission option. The cars will be available on road in India from September.
I drove the Vento from Jaipur to Gurgaon a few days ago, and yes, I did get to test both the diesel and petrol avatars.
I started with the automatic petrol, and while the car felt taut, it lacked the rigid feel most German cars are known for. The suspension is planted and firm, yet the car feels a bit light on its feet, which was a tad disconcerting. The engine also revs a lot, but that doesn’t translate into raw power. The car gets up to speeds of 160 kmph fairly smoothly, but just takes some time getting there. It’s the quick throttle response that’s lacking. I suspect the manual with the same engine would be a lot more satisfying. So the problem lies with the Plain Jane 6-speed auto gearbox. VW hasn’t included the much touted DSG or dual-clutch automatic that’s found in its other cars such as the Jetta and Passat, and indeed even the European Polo. But that’s what happens when price becomes such an overarching consideration—which as we all know is the case in India. So I had to be satisfied with the regular auto box which, as I have already said, fails to impress.
I subsequently switched to the diesel with a 5-speed manual transmission. We were finally in business! This variant was more in line with what I expected from a VW sedan. Lots of low-end torque, and a much more satisfying and notchy gear-shift. A very fun, sporty and responsive car, the character of the diesel Vento was immediately different from the variant I had driven previously. The bigger relief for me was that the 1.6 litre diesel was way ahead in performance and character to the sluggish and indifferent 1.2 litre engine in the Polo hatch.
The interiors on the Vento are akin to the Polo’s. Very German, with straight lines and good plastics. You get an effective climate control system with the car but both that and its music system have a very boring and antiquated interface. The seats are good, but lack under-thigh support. The rear has decent leg room, and more importantly an AC vent for the rear passengers.
What’s not nice though is the lack of a USB or auxiliary port or any iPod compatibility whatsoever. And the lack of steering-mounted controls on even the top-end Highline trim also got my goat.
VW is likely to offer optional add-ons such as leather seats and a fancier music system in subsequent variants or limited editions that may come next year. There will also be more engine options being offered in the Vento a few years down the line, especially a more powerful diesel one that the company is currently developing.
The car also has a six-year anti-rust warranty, and drives in with 60% local content, which is why VW has been able to shock and surprise with attractive prices. I had always maintained that for any success, this car had to be priced below the Honda City. And VW has delivered. The petrol variants range from Rs6.99 lakh to Rs9.21 lakh, while the two diesel versions are priced at Rs7.99 lakh and Rs9.23 lakh.
So Honda should be very worried. It’s been a sluggish sales year for the company, which is continuing to miss out on most of the recent sales blitzkrieg we have been witnessing. The Vento will now hit Honda where it hurts most—its bread-and-butter model, the City. Others such as the Tata Indigo Manza and Ford Fiesta, as well as the Chevrolet Aveo, Hyundai Verna and Fiat’s Linea, will also feel the heat. So this will be the space to watch as the festive season approaches.
Rs 1 m prize for Indian contemporary art, courtesy Skoda
NEW DELHI, Aug 17: Art and automobile tied a happy knot when Skoda Auto India, the manufacturer of models like Fabia, Laura and Superb, here Tuesday announced a Rs.1 million prize for the best collection of Indian contemporary art by a single artist in the country.
The prize will recognise upcoming talent among the country’s young artists.
Announcing the prize, Martin Kuehl, a director at Skoda Auto, said that after 10 years of existence in the Indian auto market, “the company wanted to give back something to the Indian society”.
The prize will be awarded Jan 31, 2011 to an artist below 45 years of age with an outstanding body of recognised works. A five-member jury will judge the entries.
“The prize is not a business project, but rather a social responsibility project. The response to art is phenomenal in India. But contemporary Indian artists, who are being recognised abroad, are not being recognised in the country,” Kuehl said.
“Contemporary art, like automotives, is one of the determining factors of a growing economy. Since we have a platform, we decided to use it to support young artists. Art is a way to reach out to the masses - and we are trying to identify with the mass segment,” he added.
The company will enter the mass segment with two new affordable automobile models - an entry level limousine and a mass Fabia model priced around Rs.3 lakh and Rs.5 lakh, respectively, for B and C segments of auto-buyers.
The Skoda prize is being supported by a Mumbai-based firm, Seventy Event Management Group, the British Council, Art India, the leading art magazine and the country chapter of the British accountancy firm Grant Thornton India.
Of the five-member jury, three Indian members were announced Tuesday. The panel will be chaired by Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, Mumbai-based historian, writer, curator and culture activist.
The other two members are Kavita Singh, an associate professor at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, and Rajshree Pathy, an art connoisseur.
Two more jury members will be inducted in November, said Martin Da Costa, CEO of Seventy Event Management Group.
The company will work with the galleries to identify “potential winners”.
The long-list of six will be narrowed down to three from which the winner will be selected, a spokesperson for the company said. An artist, who will qualify for the prize, will require to have hosted a solo show between May 1, 2009 and April 30, 2010.
The jury will be helped by an expert advisory committee.
“One of the reasons for the prize is the resurgence in the art market and the need to further the intellectual balance to determine the value of an art work,” Zakariah said.
Skoda to launch small car
NEW DELHI, Aug 16: Czech car-maker Skoda today said it will introduce a small car in the Indian market in early 2012, which will be priced at Rs. 3-5 lakh. The company, a part of the Volkswagen Group, will also introduce its sports utility vehicle, Yeti, and a stripped-down version of its premium hatchback, Fabia, in India by the end of this year.
In addition, it will launch a sedan with a Rs. 6-10 lakh price tag in 2011. "We had announced to roll out one new model every year. As part of this strategy, we will enter the volume segment and will launch a small car in early 2012," SkodaAuto India Board Member and Director (Sales and Marketing) Thomas Kuehl said.
The development of the car is underway and the company will launch the model in both petrol and diesel versions. When asked about the possible price range of the vehicle, he said: "It will be below the Fabia... Our aim is to price in the Rs. 3-5 lakh category."
The over 15 lakh units strong Indian passenger car market witnesses most of its sales coming from the small car segment and global car majors have launched a slew of new models in the Rs. 3-5 lakh bracket in recent months, including Ford's
Figo, General Motors' Beat and Volkswagen's Polo.
Kuehl, however, declined to comment on whether a new facility will be set up to produce the car or it will be rolled out from the existing Aurangabad unit, which has a capacity of 44,000 units per annum.
"We have not decided anything about production. We are open to sharing technologies as well as the plant of our parent Volkswagen," he added.
German car major Volkswagen (VW) has invested 580 million euro to set up a manufacturing facility in Chakan with an annual production capacity of 1.1 lakh units.
Kuehl said the company is expecting to treble its sales in the next three years, mainly on the back of the proposed small car.
The company sold about 14,800 units last year and is aiming to cross the 20,000 units mark in 2010. Asked if the car will be exported to other nations, Kuehl said, "We never ruled out export... We study that option, but nothing has been decided now." In addition, SkodaAuto India has geared up to launch the Yeti in the country within the next few months.
"We will launch the vehicle as a completely knocked-down unit from our plant. The price has not been fixed, but it will be competitive," Kuehl said. Skoda had unveiled the SUV at the Geneva Motor Show last year and it was introduced in the European markets with both petrol and diesel engines.
SkodaAuto celebrates Independence Day
AGRA, Aug 16: SkodaAuto India, a fully owned subsidiary of SkodaAuto a.s., Czech Republic, in association with Shiel Ventures Ltd., today flagged the Skoda Independence Drive.
Starting off from the Shiel Ventures showroom, the thrilling three hour drive culminated into an enthralling event with a walk down memory lane. As part of the drive, participants drove through various historic monuments and relived Agra’s past glory.
Open to all Skoda owners, the drive was an enriching experience for all participants. Speaking on the occasion Mr. Sanjeev Rattan – Dealer Principal, Shiel Ventures Ltd. said “I am overwhelmed by our customer’s response and participation in the Skoda Independence Drive. Shiel Ventures will continue to bring more such exciting events for all proud Skoda owners. Along with SkodaAuto we have always aimed at enhancing customer experience and this initiative was step in that direction.”
The Skoda Independence Drive celebrated the true spirit of freedom on the occasion of Independence Day. It gave all participants a sense of patriotism along with an adventurous and exciting expedition. In their quest for the trophy all participating Skoda owners revisited the history of Agra on this adventurous drive.
Shiel Ventures Ltd offers a complete range of Skoda premium cars, including the flagship all new Skoda Superb, the new Skoda Laura and Skoda Fabia.
Skoda India reshuffles management
NEW DELHI, Aug 11: Under a move to strengthen its position in the Indian market, SkodaAuto India, a fully owned subsidiary of SkodaAuto A. S., Czech Republic has recently announced the appointment of Dr. Oliver Gruenberg as its new Managing Director - Technical Affairs.
It is to be mentioned here that Dr. Oliver Gruenberg assumed responsibilities from August 1st 2010 and has taken over from Mr. Jean-Marie Lagey, Managing Director Technical Affairs who recently retired from Skoda Auto India.
While Lagey has been assigned new duties in the European region, it may be noted here that Gruenberg was working as a Manufacturing Director and Deputy General Director of Volkswagen Russia in his previous capacity. There is no denying to the fact that Gruenberg played a key role in driving the business of the Group in the Russian region.
In fact, after having led the company to production readiness in full cycle production in 2009, he took over the responsibility for the Volkswagen plant in Sarajevo Bosnia.
However, Thomas Kuehl will continue as the Spokesperson of the company and Member of the Board & Director Sales & Marketing for Skoda in the domestic market.
Honda Siel Launches Jazz X
NEW DELHI, Aug 11: Honda Siel India has launched a new variant of the Jazz called the Jazz X. Honda has given a USB port, rear parcel shelf and height adjustable driver seat. Jazz also gets alloy wheels, new front fog lamps, front grille and a new rear spoiler.
There are no changes in the engine department. The Jazz X continues to be powered by Honda's smooth and refined four-cylinder 1198cc Vtec motor that produces max power of 89bhp and 11.2kgm of torque. Power is transmitted through 5-speed manual gearbox.
The new Jazz X will now be offered in one new color-Rallye Red, apart from the existing colors - Tafetta White, Alabaster Silver, Crystal Black Pearl, Sherbet Blue and Deep Sapphire Blue. Jazz X is priced at Rs 7.53 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
Skoda India launches 'Skoda Shield'
NEW DELHI, Aug 9: Skoda India has launched a new scheme, 'Skoda Shield', a unique after sales package which offers a '4 years of care free driving' to its customers and help achieve a tension-free ownership experience.
The Skoda Shield package is inclusive of 24X7 roadside assistance, Basic Motor Insurance and Extended Warranty too. 24×7 Roadside Assistance for the period of insurance – A breakdown or an accident can never be predicted. The 24×7 Roadside Assistance provides on-site support to customers in case of a breakdown or an accident.
The Basic Motor Insurance of the Skoda Shield package includes a one year comprehensive insurance policy, along with which 24×7 Roadside Assistance will be provided for the same insurance term.
Extended Warranty for additional 2 yrs/1,00,000 Kms – The Extended Warranty an addition to the new car warranty provided by Skoda Auto India. It is an extension of the warranty by two years or up to 1,00,000 kms over the standard warranty. Thus with this package, the car will be under a warranty of 4 (2+2) years or 1,00,000 kms (whichever is earlier).
Skoda Shield is made available on Skoda Laura, Fabia and Superb. Skoda offers its 'Shield' to customers with the payment of a nominal fee at the time of purchase of a new Skoda car.
Skoda India to shell out Rs 30,000 for selling defective car
NEW DELHI, Aug 4: A consumer court has asked auto major Skoda India Private Limited (SIPL) and a dealer to shell out Rs 30,000 as compensation to a buyer who was sold a defective car.
The East Delhi District Consumer Forum also imposed a cost of Rs 5,000 on the company and its dealer Sai Automobiles as there was recurrence of same defects despite repairs.
"We direct the company and its dealer to pay to the complainant jointly or severally Rs 30,000 as compensation for physical and mental harassment and Rs 5000 as litigation cost," the Forum bench headed by President U C Tiwari said.
The Forum passed the order on a complaint of M/s SDR Printer seeking directions to SIPL either to replace the vehicle or refund the entire amount with an interest.
Alleging that there was manufacturing defects in Skoda Fabia Elegance car, the complainant firm sought Rs 40,000 compensation for visiting service stations for rectifying problems relating to wheels, door noise and head lights.
The company tried to wash off its hand from its liability, saying there was no manufacturing defect and blamed poor performance of the vehicle on the usage of impure fuel by the buyer, the forum said.
But the company's contention was disallowed by the court which labelled its arguments as an "excuse to conceal the defects" in the vehicle.
"According to the company and its dealer, the defects were only due to utilisation of impure fuel.
"But, I think it is just the excuse to conceal the defects found in the vehicle because normally people take fuel from authorised petrol pumps...As such, the complainant was being physically and mentally harassed after purchase of the vehicle till June 4, 2009," it said.
The Forum, also comprising Members M Saxena and T Vijayan, noted that from 2008, the year when the car was purchased and till last year, the vehicle came to the dealer for repair nine times, which showed that it was not in normal condition.
"Because if anybody purchases a new vehicle and paid money for the same, he presumes that the vehicle will be in normal condition for at least two years. But in this case, the vehicle was not in normal condition as per the service history given by the parties," the Forum said.
It directed the parties to repair the vehicle completely without taking any charge and deliver the same to the complainant.
"If even after repair of the vehicle, the defects were not removed in the vehicle, the complainant may file a fresh case with proof of manufacturing defect for replacement of the vehicle or refund of the price money," the Forum said.
Skoda mini-SUV Yeti displayed at the 2010 Hyderabad International Auto Show
HYDERABAD, July 23: SkodaAuto India displayed its much awaited SUV, Skoda Yeti, for the first time at the Hyderabad International Auto Show 2010. The Indian arm of the Czech automaker affirms that the highly agile Yeti is compact, attractively styled with excellent handling characteristics and is bound to create a stir in this segment with the potential of having a cult following.
The 4×4 variants are also characterized by outstanding off-road capability and excellent traction. These, coupled with superb emission values and low fuel consumption meet the needs of a socially acceptable SUV.
Skoda Auto India, which is looking to roll out its Yeti mini-SUV model by second half of this calendar year, is looking to price the model in the price range of Rs. 13-17 lakh. It has also been learnt that the Czech carmaker will initially launch the 2-litre diesel version in the country, followed by petrol and other low-powered versions, if there is a market potential.
To be sold as a completely knock down (CKD) unit in India with the kits being imported from its parent company’s Kvasiny plant in the Czech Republic, the model will be the first SUV by the company in India. The vehicle, which was launched in the global markets around five months back, was also showcased at the just-concluded 2010 Auto Expo.
“We are gearing up to roll out Yeti in India. We’ll start importing kits in the next few months. Initially we have plans to come out with the 2.0 litre TDI variant, we may think of launching other variants if there is a reasonable demand. As far as its pricing is concerned, it will be priced in the same segment where Laura is priced (in the range of Rs.13-17 lakh). Based on a new platform, it will be assembled at our Aurangabad facility. The monthly output of the SUV is, however, not finalised yet," said a spokesperson of Skoda India.
Reinhard Fleger, member of the Board, Sales and Marketing, Skoda Auto, had earlier stated, “The Indian automobile industry continues to be among the most promising car industries across the globe and it shall continue to grow in the coming year backed by an estimated GDP growth of about 7 per cent. Skoda has a share of around 25 per cent in the mid size segment where we have operated since the last 9 years. We have aggressive plans for the Indian market and aim to emerge as a major player in the Indian automotive industry’s growth story. The Yeti is an integral aspect of this plan.”
While speaking at the unveiling ceremony of Yeti at the Auto Expo, Thomas Kuehl, Member of the Board, Sales & Marketing, Skoda Auto India, said, “The highly agile Yeti is compact, attractively styled with excellent handling characteristics and is bound to create a stir in this segment with the potential of having a cult following. The 4×4 variants are also characterised by outstanding off-road capability and excellent traction. These, coupled with superb emission values and low fuel consumption meet the needs of a socially acceptable SUV. I am very confident that the Yeti, with its intrinsic Skoda values combined with our growing network expanse across India, will fuel fresh energy in this segment contributing to the overall growth. We hope Yeti will help us capture 10-15 per cent share in the SUV market. Overall, we are doing exceptionally well. Globally, India will emerge among top five markets for us from the 11th position now. Initially, the top-end variant would be made available in India followed by more engine and model options.”
Toyota Corolla Altis Diesel Car In India
NEW DELHI, July 22: Toyota has launched its Corolla Altis diesel. The price of this long awaited diesel version starts from Rs 10.95 lakh.
It has a 1400 cc D-4D diesel motor. The car is likely to provide a smooth driving experience with intercooler and variable nozzle turbo. The car has an ARAI-certified mileage of 21.43 kmpl. It would give competition to Skoda Laura 2.0 TDI, Cruze, and Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 TDI.
The Toyota Corolla Altis diesel version looks familiar with its petrol version except some modifications being done on the front design which makes it look even better. The interior of the car remains the same. It provides the same comfort and sophistication which the Altis lovers like.
Corolla Altis Diesel is available in three trim levels namely D-4D J, D-4D G and D-4D GL. Corolla Altis Diesel will return a mileage at 21.43kmpl as per the ARAI testing.
Corolla Altis Diesel is available in seven colours: Silver Mica Metallic, Champagne Mica Metallic, Dark Red Mica Metallic, White Pearl Mica, Light Blue Mica Metallic, Super White and Black Mica.
Toyota eyes sales of 1,50,000 units by 2011
NEW DELHI, July 22: Toyota, the world’s biggest car maker, has set a target to reach total sales of 1,50,000 units by the end of the next calendar year. The company that has presence in India through a joint venture with Bangalore-based Kirloskar Group expects small car Etios to be the primary volume driver for the company.
“Next year, total sales of the company will be 1,50,000 units. Of that, we expect Etios to be around 67,000 units... If we produce 70,000 (Etios) cars, sales would be anywhere between 65,000 and 67,000 (units),” Sandeep Singh, deputy managing director of the company, said. He added that Toyota hopes to reach a total sales of 70,000 units this year against 63,837 in the previous year.
Since bookings re-opened for its stylish sports utility vehicle Fortuner, which is priced at Rs 19 lakh, from July 1, the company has witnessed a total of 2,500 bookings. The company had stopped taking orders from January 31. However, the company is facing a problem of increasing backlogs. At present, the total backlog is 2,500 units. Singh said, “The total delivery pending is 6,500 units. Once it reaches 7,000 units, we will stop taking orders again.”
In June, the company had decided to increase production of Fortuner to 950 units from 500 units per month. Since its launch in August last year, the company has sold 8,500 units of the SUV.
On Wednesday the company launched the diesel variant of Corolla Altis. This is the company's first diesel sedan in the country. With the base model priced at a competitive Rs 10.95 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the car is expected to give tough competition to Chevrolet Cruze, Volkswagen Jetta and Skoda's Laura and Octavia.
BMW's Corporate Edition offers value for money
NEW DELHI, May 11: As the Indian market for passenger vehicles continues its rapid expansion, the growing number of buyers also includes a set which is very choosy.
Some of these choices are also governed by one’s spending power. And that is what I want to talk about. We now have brands such as Porsche or Audi in the market, along with others such as the Mercedes Benz, which have been around for a decade—and most people would love to own one of these, right? Well, that’s not always possible, so people end up buying premium sedans such as the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord.
That is changing now. That’s right; you can now get a BMW at the Camry price point—give or take a lakh rupees.
Enter the Corporate Edition of the BMW 3 series. This car was conceived as a variant by the Bavarian giant in 2009, as being a slightly stripped-down version, for fleet buyers or companies in India. These were buyers who wanted the car strictly with the intention of handing the keys to a driver. So they didn’t want seat warmers, or a sunroof, or a fancy information and entertainment system such as the iDrive. Nope, they just wanted the brand, the leather on the rear seat and the power of a BMW. So, all fleet and corporate buyers were offered the diesel 3 series (320d Corporate Edition)—again a preferred choice—for Rs24.4 lakh. Compare that with around Rs31 lakh for the regular 320d Highline and the 320d Corporate Edition looks very attractive. Both cars carry the same 177 bhp engine and six-speed automatic transmission.
Sales started to pick up, but then individual buyers got a whiff of this model. And soon, they too were banging on the door at BMW India. Peter Kronschnabl, the outgoing president of Indian operations, saw this as an opportunity. And so, a few weeks ago, the Corporate Edition was made available to individual buyers too. Sure, it doesn’t have the features I mentioned; it also doesn’t have the wood-grain finish dash or the pull-up window blinds in the rear, or even the LCD screen. But it has still been flying off the shelf, with the company now facing some back orders. Over 300 cars have been sold in around two months.
Passat: Volkswagen has relaunched the car at Rs 19.2 lakh.
That is hardly surprising—that’s how it is in mature markets such as Western Europe. So I now routinely meet folks who don’t want just a hatchback—they want a premium hatch; those who don’t want just people movers or multi-utility vehicles (MUVs)—they also want plush interiors; or those who want a certain brand—and are ready to compromise on some of the bells and whistles.
But the point of writing this was not for me to go on about that one car. In fact, it’s the emerging trend that’s more vital. You see, the BMW strategy has now forced Mercedes Benz to work out a similar proposition with its new “Executive” variant C-Class sedan. For now, the company insists this is just for corporate and fleet sales; however, individual sales are imminent given the overwhelming demand from buyers.
Audi India is also rushing in a basic variant of its A4 model—which should be in the market by June.
This is where the story gets even more interesting. With a BMW available for Rs24 lakh, why would anyone buy a Volkswagen Passat for the same price? So Volkswagen has relaunched the car, albeit with a 157 bhp, 1.8 TSI petrol engine and manual transmission, at Rs19.2 lakh! The Rs5 lakh climb down from its earlier diesel engine and automatic transmission version still gets you most of the creature comforts by the way, and the car looks just as stately with its chrome-enhanced face.
This move has also sparked off a rethink from Honda, Toyota and Nissan—and even Volkswagen’s sister company Skoda—on tweaking and cutting prices on their comparable models. The Skoda Superb, in fact, also has a cheaper, manual version at Rs18.28 lakh (down by around Rs1.2 lakh), with pretty much the same specs as the Passat.
The trend is likely to move down another segment too.
We already saw a flutter when Chevrolet brought in its Cruze last year, at way more attractive prices than the competition. The result was a cheaper Toyota Corolla Altis at the end of last year, and a cheaper Volkswagen Jetta just a couple of weeks ago.
I know that this will affect some of the future models that are being considered for India. Ford with its Focus, Renault with its Fluence and Tata Motors with its Prima concept, are considering a lower entry price point—in the range of Rs9-10 lakh—than they were when they began examining this segment in 2008. These cars will start hitting the road in India by 2011.
The Indian buyer has it good. The choice is immense, the luxury and performance options are aplenty, and the prices are more attractive than ever before. And it’s only going to get better. Is anyone complaining? Absolutely not!