Volkswagen actively considering compact sedans for India

VW considering small sedans – probably based on the VW Up! or Skoda Citigo

Global car makers look for scalability. This usually entails a product strategy of having car platforms that can service multiple markets across the globe. Therefore, country specific cars are rare except in cases where the demand for such products is extremely high. An interesting segment limited to India is that of the sub-4 meter compact sedan category. First kickstarted by the Tata Indigo eCS half a decade ago, in 2008, the compact sedan segment has seen a steady stream of addition in cars, as well as volumes.

Currently, the compact sedan category commands volumes of about 27,000 units a month, with the Maruti Suzuki Swift and the Honda Amaze together delivering 25,000 monthly units. These are numbers that are too hard to ignore for mass market car makers. In cue, Hyundai, Ford and Volkswagen are three car makers having plans for this segment. Let’s get to the specifics of this story. German auto giant Volkswagen, known to shy away from country-specific cars, has recognized that the sub-4 meter compact sedans could be its next sales driver in India.

The car maker is said to be actively considering a range of compact sedan options for the Indian car market. With the Polo hatchback measuring 3,970 mm in length, adding a boot to the PQ24 (Polo) platform isn’t a straight forward option. So, the focus naturally shifts to the New Small Family (NSF) architecture that underpins the likes of the Volkswagen Up! and the Skoda CitiGo. A versatile platform that can be adapted to host different wheelbases and one that has already spawned a compact SUV called the Taigun, the NSF platform is likely to be used for the Volkswagen compact sedan.

Also, Volkswagen has been extensively testing the Up! hatchback in India, with a view to explore the aspect of localization. The German car giant has been in talks with Indian vendors to drive down part costs of the Up!, making the car and the platform it is based on, viable for the ultra price sensitive Indian car market. Continuing this momentum, a compact sedan based on the Up! platform is a strong likelihood for the Indian car market. Expect the car to have a wheelbase similar to the Polo, albeit with dimensions that make it fit into the sub-4 meter compact car category.

Another point of consideration for the Volkswagen compact sedan is the engines it would use. Volkswagen has two petrol engines that fit the 1.2 liter limit for compact sedans: the 1.2 liter MPI and 1.2 liter TSI units. While the 1.2 liter MPI unit is a naturally aspirated motor – the likes of which Volkswagen eventually plans stop producing – the 1.2 liter TSI turbo petrol engine is likely to find its way into the compact sedan. Volkswagen is also downsizing the 1.6 liter TDI turbo diesel engine to 1.5 liters.

The mere existence of the 1.5 liter TDI turbo diesel engine will give the German car maker a solid stab at the compact sedan market, as the 1.5 liter capacity is the upper limit for diesel engined, sub-4 meter compact sedans. Volkswagen’s compact sedan, if signed off for production, is likely to be built in 2015 or beyond as the car maker has emphasized that all new cars will be launched in India only after 2015. Until then, Volkswagen India plans to keep the hustings ticking with refreshed and facelifted versions of its current car line up.