New launches to boost car sales


Despite the slowing in demand being more than expected, sending sales projections into a tailspin, India will see no dearth of new vehicle launches in the second half of the year, with manufacturers battling to revive consumer sentiment.

Almost every car maker has planned a launch later in the year, from an economical compact car to a spacious sport utility vehicle (SUV). Each of these models will be available in various variants, with different fuel options.


Manufacturers hope these launches would help revive the earlier pace of sales growth. The rise has seen 19 per cent, year on year, over the past five months, forcing many to dole out lucrative offers to downsize stock. Growth in the same month last year was 31 per cent.

Korea’s Hyundai Motor, the second largest car maker in India, will make the highest number of launches by December. That includes a compact four-door car, powered by an 800cc emgine and priced below its current entry level model, the Santro. Two more premium sedans, the i40 and the new Elantra, are also expected to make their way into showrooms later in the year. The Hyundai management, however, declined to provide details.

Arvind Saxena, director, sales and marketing, Hyundai Motor India, said, "A company plans launches much in advance; it may later decide to defer it or not. (Consumer) sentiments are low and something like new launches will help a lot in lifting the spirits. The market has been lower this month so far and it could close lower than last month."

Market leader Maruti Suzuki, which had made several launches last year, will launch the much-awaited new Swift. This new model, initially scheduled to hit markets around June, has been postponed due to the recent unrest at one of its two factories, crippling production.

The compact hatchback category, which generates 75 per cent of domestic sales, is to see most of the action. In addition to the Swift, this category will witness launches of the Honda Brio, Toyota Etios Liva and Beat diesel.


Jnaneswar Sen, senior VP, sales and marketing, Honda Siel Cars India, said, "We are expecting some kind of festive cheer in the coming months to lift demand. There is still a growth opportunity in the market. The launch of our Brio will happen as per schedule, which is around October. By August onwards, the situation in Japan will begin to improve."

Though its much-hyped compact car, the Micra, failed to generate cheering numbers, Japanese brand Nissan will go ahead with the launch of the Sunny, a mid-size sedan expected to priced below Rs 7 lakh. Based on the Micra platform and built at the mega Chennai facility, it will also be launched around October, to take on the newly launched Hyundai Verna Fluidic, Maruti SX4 and Volkswagen Vento, among others.

Three new SUVs would also be launched, with one of these catering to the lower end of the price spectrum. The joint venture of General Motors and SAIC will look to launch a compact SUV in the last quarter of the year, in what could be one of the first products from the JV.

Mahindra & Mahindra, market leader in the SUV segment, is to launch its unnamed, yet most premium SUV till date. This new model will bridge the gap between the existing compact SUV Scorpio and the yet to be launched range under the SsangYong brand. Although price details are not available, sources say the vehicle could be priced around Rs 13-15 lakh.