It is rightly said that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade; and it seems our auto manufacturers have created the best example for it. The very popular sub-4 metre segment was given life by a government norm that enabled certain vehicles to attract a lower excise duty. Tata Motors was the first company to understand the loop hole in this norm but it was Maruti Suzuki which has enjoyed the advantage the most, the rest as they say is history. The Swift DZire compact sedan is the second bestselling car in the country. The vehicle has been followed by the Honda Amaze and now the Hyundai Xcent, while also being the envy of other manufacturers. Now, Volkswagen and Nissan too are contemplating to launch their respective versions of a sub-4 metre sedan and SUV in the country.
While Nissan India has commissioned a study to explore the sub-4 metre sedan space; Volkswagen has moved from the consideration stage to the final stage of approval over the development of the project. Internally codenamed as VW 251\2, the company has already asked vendors and suppliers for quotations for sourcing components. The company plans to launch the sub-4 metre sedan not only in India, but also across the emerging markets of BRIC nations. Volkswagen is also scouting for an Indian company to engineer and design the vehicle, and talks seem to have initiated with Hinduja Group’s Defiance design and engineering firm.
If the project does get a green signal from the head honcho’s at Volkswagen, the sub-4 metre compact sedan will become a reality only by 2016. Interestingly, sister company Skoda Auto too was mulling a sub-4 metre compact sedan, based on the Fabia platform. Will both the cars be underpinned by the same chassis and powertrain remains to be seen. Volkswagen had also showcased the T-ROC compact SUV concept at the Geneva Motor Show based on the Polo platform and could make it a production reality for our market.
Nissan on the other hand is expected to base its sub-4 metre compact on the Sunny. The compact sedan could be Nissan’s ticket to bringing in the volumes for the company, apart from the Datsun models. Nissan already retails the Terrano in the Rs. 8-12 lakh SUV segment, and the compact SUV could help the company benefit from higher volumes. Both the models could be launched by 2016-17, depending on when the company is able to come to a conclusion. Out of the 10 products planned by the company for India, two sub-4 metre products are a strong probability.
The sub-4 metre space accounts for over 2.75 lakh vehicles sold per annum. In spite of the overall slowdown in the market, the sub-4 metre products helped automakers achieve significant growth in the market. Before Volkswagen and Nissan join the party, Ford would have launched the Figo sedan, white Tata’s Zest will make an entry later this year. Datsun too will offer the GO+ MPV, while Mahindra’s S101 compact SUV would make it to showrooms next year.
Source – Economic Times