A recent article by The Economic Times used the term ‘Soda bottle’ effect to describe how a lot of new cars bank heavily on the novelty factory but the sales soon drop down, much like soda fizz. Not a wrong analogy as such, the same can be said about quite a few products in India. We take a look at some cars that managed to garner decent sales in the start, but that soon fizzled out. This in no way means the cars are bad products; this ‘soda bottle’ thing is more of a market phenomenon.
What could have been a real number gainer for Tata Motors, and more importantly, the mode of transport of choice for lakhs of Indians, never sold enough. Amidst all sort of non-sense that the Nano never deserved (be it people crying foul about the possibility of clogged roads or the unrest at Tata’s then proposed facility in West Bengal), the car made it to the market. All that after crossing the hurdles that the price constraints threw at Tata, the Nano made a lot of news in the market.
But as far as sales go, the Nano never took off. Showcased at the 2008 Auto Expo, the car received a lot of interest from media, enthusiasts, and those who wished to upgrade from their two-wheelers. Early booking figures also gave hope. But that was about it. Today, after multiple attempts at making it successful and more relevant in the market today, Tata Motors manages to sell close to 2,000 cars every month.
The Beat still looks cool, and the hidden rear door handle and an instrument console that mimics those of motorcycles, the car has its USPs largely unchanged. It even made an appearance in the Transformers movie series, which is again an achievement in itself.
Available in two engine choices, there are a plenty of Chevrolet Beats on Indian roads. But like other products here, the Beat too showed way more potential when it was launched. The addition of the diesel engine made it all the more popular.
Unlike the Sail twins and the Enjoy, the Beat is a global product. Last year, it managed to cross a million sales milestone globally, while the Indian sales (till then) stood at 1,78,000 units. That’s certainly respectable, but having dropped from a consistent 4k+ sales to the current average of about 1,000 sales, it makes to our list as well.
Based on the Micra, the Nissan Sunny is one of the most successful cars that the Japanese carmaker sells in India. As a product, it offers a lot of legroom, good amount of boot space, and ease of driving. The 1.5-litre diesel engine is efficient and doesn’t feel strained while cruising at about 100km/h, while the petrol with the optional CVT gearbox is a boon in traffic.
It’s a solid product on the whole (in terms of reliability), but it’s not the most practical option for urban commuters. Also, that long dimension makes the Sunny susceptible to underbody scrapes on bad roads and tall speedbreakers.
In terms of sales, the car, which ones managed to cross the 3,000 sales mark now does less than one-tenth of that. It has barely crossed the 200 sales mark in the last five months.
Based on the same platform as the Duster, the Terrano is slightly more expensive and comes with slightly different looks. In terms of sales, what looked like a good start – Nissan sold almost 15k units of the Terrano in three months – soon tapered down to about a thousand and a half. Sales in the recent months haven’t been any encouraging, either, with a total of about a thousand units sold in two months (July and August).
MPV is a tough market segment, and more often than not, new products are met with less than satisfying sales figures. Renault Lodgy and Nissan Evalia both haven’t been able to find success yet, but it’s the Honda Mobilio that was affected with the ‘Soda Bottle’ effect.
Launched last year, the car was off to a good start, with about 20,000 pre-launch bookings. Momentarily it even managed to outsell the Ertiga but since then the sales have fallen drastically. So from 5,000+ bookings a few months after the launch, it’s down to about 1,000 units per month.
Like others here, Honda Mobilio is a good product. Not just in isolation, but even when compared to the main competition. Engine options for the car include a 1.5-litre petrol and a diesel engine of the same capacity.