Carmakers have been busy with new launches and one would think that the needs of most buyers would have been addressed by now. However, there is still some segments that new launches and existing cars are missing.
CarToq looks at some of the cars in the market and identifies some gaps that can easily be met by carmakers as they already have the provision to do so with their existing models. It just requires a little bit of planning in their product mix and variants. Also read: Five car types we need in India Now
Here’s a list of five car variants that we need in India now.
Honda City Corporate CNG / E MT CNG
Honda recently launched the CNG-ready Honda City. However, it has only made the V-variant of the car – the top-end variant – CNG ready, and priced it at a slightly expensive Rs. 9.03 lakh ex-showroom, minus the CNG kit. Adding a Honda approved CNG kit at the dealer will cost a buyer another Rs. 60,000 not including the cost of installation and registration and taxes. All in all this car, with CNG, will cost at least Rs. 10.75 lakh on-road in Delhi, which makes it really pricey.
Now, if only Honda had offered this CNG-ready option (with tweaks to the suspension and engine management system) in the Honda City Corporate and Honda City E MT variants (the base variants of the City), pricing the base variant at about Rs. 7.5 lakh ex-showroom, it would have managed to squeeze in a good CNG variant at under Rs. 8.75 lakh on-road, and given it more of a fighting chance against the diesel engined cars that it will compete with. Also read: Can the Honda City CNG take on diesel cars?
Safari Storme 4×4 EX / LX
Tata recently launched the Tata Safari Storme, pricing it upward of Rs. 9.95 lakh (for the base EX variant), going up to Rs. 13.66 lakh for the top-end 4×4 VX variant. Only the VX variant gets a four-wheel drive system with the Tata Safari Storme, potentially leaving out a whole lot of customers who would have wanted a functional, rugged 4×4 SUV without too many features and bells and whistles. A base 4×4 variant of the Tata Safari Storme would have effectively taken the fight to the Mahindra Scorpio, which has three 4×4 variants to offer – a low-end Scorpio LX 4×4 (priced at Rs. 9.64 lakh), a VLX manual-transmission 4×4 priced at Rs. 11.8 lakh and a top-end automatic transmission 4×4 VLX priced at Rs. 12.63 lakh. The Scorpio has more features, including an automatic transmission four-wheel drive variant and is priced lower than the Tata Safari Storme.
Tata could have offered a 4×4 variant with the EX and priced it at about Rs. 11 lakh, to at least provide customers with an option of a rugged 4×4 SUV, without too many features.
Hyundai Verna 1.6 diesel automatic
The cheapest diesel automatic car that you can get in India today is the Hyundai Verna 1.6 SX (O) automatic. This car is priced at an exorbitant Rs. 11.4 lakh ex-showroom. It comes with a 4-speed automatic transmission mated to the 126 bhp, 1.6-litre diesel engine. This car is loaded with features such as six airbags, reverse camera, Bluetooth, all-round disc brakes, leather upholstery, alloy wheels etc.
However, there are customers who would love the convenience of an automatic transmission, with the frugal nature of a diesel engine at a much lower price point. All Hyundai needs to do is offer the same 1.6 litre engine and 4-speed automatic transmission in the base Hyundai Verna 1.6 CRDI Verna and price it at just Rs. 60,000 – Rs. 70,000 more than the manual equivalent (at a price point of about Rs. 9.8 lakh or so). Also read: Diesel automatic cars in India
Or better still the company could mate the same transmission with the 1.4-litre diesel engine and plonk it into the Hyundai i20, at a price point of about Rs. 8 lakh, as the engines are bolt on fits as far as mounting points go.
Maruti Swift automatic
Maruti has finally offered an automatic transmission with the Maruti Dzire in the form of the Maruti Dzire VXI AT that is priced at Rs. 6.69 lakh ex-showroom. The Maruti Dzire and the Maruti Swift are mechanically identical, except for the boot area. Therefore, it’s really easy for Maruti to offer a Swift automatic with the same transmission as the Dzire, again in the mid-variant VXI or even in the ZXI variant for those who want an automatic with features – a car that can effectively compete with Hyundai’s i20 petrol automatic.
The Swift automatic VXI variant could be priced at Rs. 6 lakh ex-showroom, and the Swift ZXI AT could be priced at about Rs. 6.7 lakh. This would offer buyers a choice of a mid-variant sedan with automatic transmission or top-end automatic hatchback at the same price point, and a lower-variant premium hatchback with an automatic transmission as well – a feat that Maruti can very easily pull off.
Maruti Gypsy diesel
Ok, this one is a bit of a wish-list actually. The Maruti Gypsy is available only with a 1.3 litre petrol engine that puts out 80 bhp, has no features and is a bare-bones off roader. The fact that it does not have power-steering, AC and has a rudimentary leaf-spring suspension has made it lose out to the Mahindra Thar. Maruti does not have any diesel engines in its portfolio other than the 1.3 litre multijet unit that it uses in the Swift, Ritz, SX4 and Ertiga. This 1.3-litre multijet diesel is configured to work in a transverse engine position and the Gypsy has a longitudinal engine layout – which would require extensive modification of the mounting points to fit this engine in the Gypsy. Also read: Top 5 SUVs for off-roading
However, if the Premier Rio, which is a rear-wheel drive, could mount this same engine in a longitudinal fashion, Maruti can easily pull of the same with the Gypsy as well. We would love to see a Maruti Gypsy with the 1.3 litre multijet diesel (preferably in 90 bhp guise) and with power-steering, be introduced at a price point of about Rs. 6.5 lakh to take on the Mahindra Thar. It will definitely garner a few customers.
Share your thoughts on these need gaps that these carmakers mentioned above an easily fill and do let us know if you think there are other gaps that can be easily filled by just introducing a new variant in a line up.