Maruti, M&M, Toyota and Mercedes to brighten auto market this festive season


7 Apr 2011
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NEW DELHI: Rising fuel prices, spiralling interest rates and negative consumer sentiment over the last few months may have forced carmakers to take their foot off the pedal, but they may be cruising again soon with more than two dozen cars slated to hit the road this festive season starting September-October . "New cars generate huge excitement and increase sales," said a senior Maruti executive.

India's largest carmaker, which stopped production of Swift from the end of last month, is gearing up to roll out new Swift next month. Its new wagon RIII, slated for October-November launch, will challenge the domination of Toyota Innova in the multi-utility segment. Maruti will also bring a shorter and compact version of its hugely popular DZire sedan, which is expected to have a highly competitive price tag due to 12% less duty on smaller cars under four metres of length. "The launches are part of the broader strategy to get some incremental numbers and increase footfalls in our showrooms," added the senior Maruti executive.

The company posted a 4% decline in sales in June this year, its first in 30 months, and was also hit by annual maintenance shutdown at Gurgaon and Manesar plants. It also suffered a production loss of 13,200 units due to a 13-day strike at its Manesar facility earlier last month. In India, most of the cars are launched either at the beginning of the year or during the festive season (starting September).

However, slowdown in the market- car sales grew just 6% in the first two months of the current fiscal against 30% in FY' 11-has promoted carmakers to advance their launches. The sluggish growth, which raised apprehensions over the original 14-15 % growth target in FY' 2012, even forced the Society of Indian Automotive Manufacturers' to revise the target to a modest 8-10 %.

The new launches could be another effort by car companies to bolster sales in coming months, say auto analysts. "New cars are the best bet to revive fortunes in the market. Every new car generates excitement leading to incremental sales and better volumes, which is the need of the hour," partner for automotive practice PwC Abdul Majeed said.


There has been a greater thrust among carmakers to launch cars especially designed to suit local tastes and conditions. After the stupendous success of Toyota's Etios, which was developed specially for India, Honda Brio and Skoda Rapid too have been designed exclusively keeping in mind needs of the domestic market. "We expect our new sedan (Rapid) to turnaround the market for us.

The car will be pegged as first offering from Skoda's global portfolio for the Indian customer," a Skoda Auto executive said. Hyundai's micro car, which is expected be exclusively developed for India, is one of the most-awaited products and is likely to be priced lower than Santro.

"We are already making great incremental sales with the new Verna sedan and the new cars shall be equally opportune to generate some good volume in the otherwise sluggish market," Hyundai director (marketing & sales) Arvind Saxena said.

Source: economictimes
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