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Honda drives the Jazz again; entry price at Rs 5.31 lakh

Eyeing growth in what appears to be a challenging year for the passenger vehicle industry, Honda on Wednesday re-launched the Jazz at an entry price of Rs 5.31 lakh for the petrol version (ex-showroom Delhi). The diesel variant, exclusively designed for the Indian market, begins at a price of Rs 6.5 lakh and goes up to Rs 8.59 lakh. Jazz competes with the likes of Maruti Suzuki Swift and Elitei20 of Hyundai.

The Jazz, with a new design and features like foldable rear seat, dual airbags and anti-lock brake system, claims to offer a mileage of 27.3 km a litre on diesel engine and 18.7 km a litre for the petrol manual transmission variant. The company is offering a two-year or 40,000 km warranty on all variants.

The launch takes place more than two years after the company stopped production of the car in March 2013. Launched in June 2009, the hatchback failed to generate the expected enthusiasm and clocked sale of just 23,000 units in nearly four years owing to its high price. Globally, however, the model has sold over 5.5 million units since the first launch in 2001.

Katushi Inoue, president and chief executive officer, Honda Cars India said the company has been able to achieve a higher degree of localisation (95 per cent) compared to just 72 per cent in the earlier Jazz. A greater localisation enables the company to price the vehicle more aggressively. The company is also exporting the new Jazz to markets like South Africa.

Built on the same platform as City, the previous Jazz had a price tag of Rs 6.98 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) while its competitors like Hyundai i20, Fiat Grande Punto, Volkswagen Polo and Maruti Suzuki Swift were priced substantially lower. After an encouraging start in 2009, volumes started dipping from the second year. In the second year, volumes dipped 36 per cent and again 15 per cent in the following year. Saddled with excess stock, Honda slashed price by Rs 1.62 lakh and eventually pulled out the car.

Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice president, marketing and sales, at Honda said the price of the earlier Jazz was said to be on a higher side. “But I would say that the Jazz was ahead of its time. Now the market has evolved. We need to realise that neither it is the same market nor the same product.”

The Japanese automobile major posted a volume growth of 9 per cent in the quarter ended June 30. Honda occupies the fourth slot in the Indian passenger vehicle market, after Maruti, Hyundai and Mahindra & Mahindra.