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Compact cars galore in 2010!



Small is big in the Indian car market. With small cars accounting for over 70 per cent of the nearly two million units market, the year 2010 saw a slew of models making their debut here, as various companies sought to tap the world’s second-fastest growing car market.

Be it the Chevrolet Beat or Volkswagen Polo, Ford Figo, Nissan Micra or Alto-K10, it was a year in which the arrival of new models sparked off stiff competition, while consumers were spoilt for choice.

Chevrolet Beat
Launched in the first week of January, the global small car from General Motors (GM), ‘Chevrolet Beat’ was designed and developed keeping in mind the Indian market. The fruit of 27 months of labour by GM’s engineers, it came in as a challenger in the compact car segment dominated by Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai.

With a price tag ranging between Rs 3.34 lakh and Rs 3.94 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) when it hit the roads, the car supplemented GM’s ‘Spark’ in the compact segment. The car, powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine, has sold 33,845 units since its launch in India. It is slated to be sold across 150 countries in due course of time.

Manufactured at GM India’s Talegaon plant in Maharashtra, Beat is the second car from the company’s ‘300 series’ platform after the sedan Chevrolet Cruze. The company plans to launch a diesel variant of the car as well.

Nissan Micra
The car, priced between Rs 3.98 lakh and Rs 5.29 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) when launched in July, marked the entry of Japan’s Nissan into the Indian compact car segment. Micra was supposed to set the stage for Nissan’s plans to have nine models in India by 2012, of which five would be made locally.

The company had said it aimed to achieve a market share of 5.5 per cent in India in the future, as it has in the global market. The fourth-generation Nissan Micra is powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine and later in the year, a diesel variant with a 1.5-litre engine.

Volkswagen Polo
An effort by Europe’s biggest car maker, Volkswagen, to replicate its success in India, the Polo was launched with two engine options, 1.2-litre petrol and 1.2-litre diesel, priced at Rs 4.34 lakh and Rs 5.32 lakh (ex showroom, Delhi) in February.

The company said the Polo would be the mainstay of its expansion plans in India, where it hopes to capture 10 per cent of the total car market by 2014. According to industry estimates, the Indian car market can touch up to five million units in the next four years.

Produced at the company’s Chakan plant, the Polo has managed to clock over 17,000 units in the Indian market since its launch. Later on, the company launched a sedan, Vento, which is based on the same platform as the Polo.

Ford Figo
Yet another global small car that made its debut in India, the Figo was a serious attempt by Ford to make its mark in the Indian compact car segment.

Launched in March, with two engine options of 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.4-litre diesel, priced between Rs 3.5 lakh and Rs 4.48 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the car indeed helped the company shore up volumes. Since its launch in March, Ford India had sold over 58,000 units of the Figo till November.

Maruti Alto-K10
With its rivals breathing down its neck, market leader Maruti Suzuki could not afford to sit back. It decided to enhance its portfolio in the compact car segment by launching a bigger and newer engine variant of its best-selling model Alto in the form of the Alto-K10 in August.

Powered by the company’s latest generation 1.0-litre K-series engine, the new car was priced between Rs 3.03 lakh and Rs 3.16 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) when launched. It soldwell, with 50,000 units finding buyers within the four months of its launch.

Besides the Alto-K10, Maruti Suzuki had also brought in a completely new Wagon R in April, replacing the existing tall boy, as it looked to maintain its 50 per cent share of the Indian car market.