A lot of manufacturers are facing a hard time in India because of several issues – the sudden shift in buyer demand from diesel to petrol variants and others.
Undoubtedly India is one of the fastest-growing automobile markets in the world and manufactures in the country are trying hard to stay afloat in this highly competitive and price sensitive market. Almost every manufacturer operating in India is offering their global products and even new vehicles are being designed keeping leading markets such as India and China in mind.
Of late, Indian automobile industry has seen a lot of roadblocks – the diesel ban issue in the capital which now has been lifted, being one of the biggest among others. A lot of mass market cars from India were crash tested by the non-profit organization – Global NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) – and since India has no mandatory safety norms, the vehicles performed poorly in the tests. However, this has generated awareness among the buyers, forcing the manufacturers to offers safety features either as standard or as optional. And then there were various global issues as well that happened recently such as emission scandals and Takata airbag crisis, which have also affected the Indian auto industry. Additionally, a few of the global manufacturers have pulled the plug on fresh investments in the country and also have changed their strategies due to all of these uncertainties. All these issues, more or less, have affected the buyers in India, their needs and requirements. Here are five mass-market manufacturers in India, looking for a turnaround of their businesses in the country.
The homegrown manufacturer’s renaissance started in the year 2014 with the introduction of the Bolt and the Zest. Though, both the cars have had a rough journey till now, especially the Bolt, they were just stepping stones for Tata onto its road for resurrection.
The manufacturer's third brand new product – the Tiago – got off to a flying start. The Tiago will soon be joined by its twin compact sedan – codenamed the Kite 5 – along with the company’s first sub-4m SUV – the Nexon – and soon to be Tata’s flagship offering – the Hexa, which will come in the Toyota Innova Crysta’s price range. Besides new vehicles, the company also came up with a brand new family of petrol engines – Revotron – and has also launched a new engine in the existing ‘Revotorq’ diesel engine clan. The future looks promising for Tata Motors since now it has its own design language, powertrains, and competent products.
Chevrolet is in a dire need of revival. This American automaker presently has no new or popular product in the market. However, it has already announced and showcased its upcoming mass-market vehicles at the 2016 Indian Auto Expo – the new-gen Beat and compact sedan based on it. Apart from these, the automaker has been testing the extensively updated Trailblazer facelift in the country, which is likely to launch soon. While the global next-generation Cruze is also expected to hit the Indian market next year. Additionally, Chevrolet, like rest of the automakers, also wants India to become one of its major export hubs, which will also largely help in making its Indian operation profitable.
Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is on a slightly different approach to revival. The Italian-American conglomerate has brought its premium and performance oriented brands Jeep and Abarth in India for its resurrection. FCA didn’t stop at just bringing the brands, the automaker also wants to launch an all-new Made-in-India Jeep SUV in the country and will export the SUV as well from its Ranjangaon plant. This plant, which is currently under an extension process, will be the fourth facility outside the US for volume production of Jeep vehicles. Additionally, the company is also manufacturing two of its Abarth vehicles locally – the Abarth Punto and the Fiat Avventura (Abarth).
Besides all this, FCA is also the leading diesel engine provider in India to several automakers. In fact, the 1.3-litre MulitJet diesel engine of Fiat is often touted as the ‘national diesel engine’.
The Brio-based products that the Japanese automaker Honda has developed for the Asian market didn’t perform up to expectation, especially the Mobilio MPV. The latest vehicle based on the Brio’s platform is the BR-V and only time will tell as to how the market will accept this seven-seater crossover. Now, if reports are to be believed, the automaker is looking for an image makeover by introducing its global models here in India. Honda had re-introduced the ninth-generation Accord in the country at the 2016 Delhi Auto Expo and it is expected to launch soon. While all eyes on the new tenth-generation Civic, which is reportedly coming next year. The HR-V is also said to be on cards along with the Jazz based sub-4m SUV – the WR-V. Renault-
Renault is giving sleepless nights to its rivals with the Kwid. The French automaker recently introduced a bigger 1.0-litre engine in the Kwid and will soon add automatic (AMT) versions as well. Its Japanese strategic partner – Nissan – has also introduced the redi-Go – Datsun’s version of the Kwid and it is doing fairly well. Beside these two and the facelifted Duster, none of the vehicles from the Renault-Nissan alliance are performing up to the mark. Nissan is busy exporting cars from India, mainly, the Micra and the Sunny. Having said this, the joint venture is expected to bring several new cars to India in the near future to turnaround its Indian operations, vehicles such as the second-generation Renault Koleos, the next-gen Renault Fluence (now known as Mégane Grand Coupé), the Nissan X-Trail petrol-hybrid and the Nissan Kicks compact SUV along with others.