Fiat Grand Punto IndiaCome 2010 and the Indian small car market is all set to hit fourth gear. Close to a dozen new small cars from big names, including Maruti-Suzuki, Honda, Volkswagen, Fiat, Ford and Toyota, are expected to hit the road, rejuvenating a market that accounts for as much as 75% of car sales.

As a fallout, the current lot of small cars could possibly be headed for a phase-out, aided by hefty discounts as manufacturers try to reduce their stocks to make way for the new entrants.

The new cars, many of which would also have variants loaded with latest features like automatic drive, ABS and airbags, will flow from almost the entire spectrum of carmakers present in India and be available in the Rs 3 lakh-Rs 5 lakh bracket (excluding the Rs 1 lakh wonder Tata Nano). To take advantage of the special subsidized excise duty for small cars, the under-4m models would sport engines below 1200cc in petrol and below 1500cc in diesel.

While Maruti-Suzuki will introduce Splash and A Star by year-end, Hyundai, will bring in i20 by the same time. The Fiat Grande Punto is also expected before the year runs out. Tata Motors is also set to offer an all-new version of its Indica, that has been the mainstay of the company for the last many years.

Many new players would also make an entry into the small segment. Prominent ones include Honda with much-awaited ‘Jazz’ and Volkswagen, the European numero uno, who will also join the bandwagon as it will roll out an Indianized-version of its popular Polo compact in 2010.

Another biggie falling for small cars would be Toyota, a company that leads globally but lags in India. Toyota will launch small cars in both petrol-diesel options and company officials said perhaps, more than one small car will roll out. And that’s not all. After 2010, many more launches are expected from Skoda, one each from Honda and Hyundai and a Rs 2 lakh car from General Motors.