Snapshot – In the next few months, five new segments will be created in the Indian car market. Most of these segments will cater to budget car buyers. These segments will span both cars and SUVs, and will create new opportunities for both car makers as well as car buyers. Here’s a gist of what’s coming up.
Affordable performance sub-brands
Affordable high performance cars are already available in India. The Volkswagen Polo GT instantly comes to mind when we’re talking affordable performance. In the coming months, dedicated sub-brands will be created in the Indian car market. Tata Motors will bring out the Bolt Sport high performance hatchback by the end of this year while Fiat is a few weeks away from introducing the Abarth line up of cars in India. The Fiat 500 Abarth will lead the charge as a flagship vehicle while more affordable Abarth badged options of Punto and Avventura will arrive later this year.
Compact SUVs are dime a dozen in the Indian car market. Micro SUVs though, are yet to make their mark. All this will soon change with the launch of the S101 codenamed vehicle from Mahindra, which will be a micro SUV that is a size smaller than the compact SUV. Mahindra isn’t the only brand taking aim at this exciting new space, which will also Maruti Suzuki making a mark in a couple years down the line. The new segment is likely to make SUVs as affordable as budget hatchbacks, and in a country such as India, the sheer potential of the new segment is immense.
Crossover styled entry level hatchbacks
Renault is taking a bold new step with the Kwid, a budget hatchback that is styled like a crossover. The Kwid will be in the market by this year’s festive season while another similarly styled but lower priced hatchback, the Datsun Redigo will arrive in early 2016. The industry’s small car biggies, namely Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai will be watching the Kwid and Redigo closely. While crossover styled hatchbacks aren’t new to India, they have not been very successful yet. The Kwid and Redigo, if successful, may spawn a range of imitators in the budget car market, the segment that’s the most accessible to millions of car buyers here.
Affordable petrol hybrids
The Indian government is pushing for more hybrid and electric cars under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) of 2020. The government now subsidizes electric and hybrid cars under the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles) project. This prompted Maruti Suzuki to state that it is evaluating the Swift Hybrid for the Indian car market. While hybrid cars are now slowly increasing in numbers when it comes to the premium end of the market here, they’re yet to make a mark on the mass segments. The Swift Hybrid could open the sluice gates. The days of diesel powered budget cars could be numbered.
Affordable diesel hybrids
Just as affordable petrol hybrid cars are likely to take off soon, the same is the case with diesel hybrids. Mahindra even showcased the XUV500 Diesel Hybrid at the 2014 Indian Auto Expo. With the FAME project now up and running, bringing the XUV500 Diesel Hybrid to the market seems like a good idea. Such cars will make diesels look better, as far as tail pipe emissions are concerned, while also delivering impressive fuel efficiency gains. For instance, Mahindra claims a near 30 % bump up in real time fuel efficiency for the XUV500 crossover equipped with diesel hybrid technology.