Chatter about a sub-Brio hatchback for India has been around from 2012. While Japanese automaker Honda has confirmed plans of such a car on occasions, it has also stated that such plans have been put on the back burner on other occasions. In the latest development on this front, Honda has yet again revealed plans that the sub-Brio hatchback is under consideration for the Indian car market. However a specific launch time frame for such a car hasn’t been announced yet considering the fact the said car is still in the consideration/planning stage.
India’s largest selling car, the Maruti Alto 800, is the major operator in the entry-level hatchback segment, and other similar offerings such as the Tata Nano, Hyundai Eon, the Chevrolet Spark and the Datsun Go, together clock over 40,000 monthly units. The next segment, in this case the B-Segment hatchback space, comprising of the likes of the Maruti WagonR and the Hyundai i10 brings in over 20,000 units in sales each month. Together, these segments are good for about 60,000 monthly units or about 30 % of the Indian car market.
India’s fast expanding middle classes, with their growing spending power are expected to spawn more first time car buyers, whose first purchases are more or less likely to be in the entry-level hatchback segment. Car makers who don’t have a presence in these segments have been quick to take cue. Datsun is developing the RediGo for a 2015 launch while Renault will bring in the XBA/A-Entry hatchback next year. Tata Motors is putting together a new hatchback code-named the Kite, that will sit a little above the Nano next year.
Given the constant action in the entry-level hatchback space and the volumes potential of this segment, Honda’s plans to enter the segment could have to do with the Japanese automaker’s ambitions of making India its fourth largest market worldwide, by 2017. The automaker has set up two factories in India, at Greater Noida and Tapukara. Plans are afoot for a third factory, at Sanand, Gujarat. If Honda does enter the big-volume entry level car segment with an 800cc offering, the automaker will need all the factory capacity it can muster.