Tuesday, October 11, 2011
By CarKhabri Team
Long waiting period of Maruti Swift, an opportunity for Etios Liva and Honda Brio
It has been more than 6 years since the premium hatchback Maruti Swift is ruling the Indian auto market. The car was rolled-out in year 2005, and since then it never looks back with becoming the largest selling premium hatchback in the Indian auto market. So far, more than half a million units of Maruti Swift have been sold since its launch in the country. However, the supremacy of Swift has been on stake since the starting of year 2010, in which a number of international car makers marked their debut in the Indian auto market.
In last two years, a number of cars have debuted in the premium hatchback segment that is comprises of Chevrolet Beat in January 2010, Ford Figo in March 2010, Volkswagen Polo in April 2010, Nissan Micra in July 2010, Toyota Etios Liva in June 2011, and recently launched Honda Brio. All these new hatchback models have given the Swift a run for its money. All of these cars are now available in both petrol and diesel variants, which somehow made the going a bit difficult for the older Swift.
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However, with the launch of new generation Maruti Swift 2012 in the month of August 2011, Maruti has once again proved that no one can beat it in the popularity as well as manufacturing of cost efficient manufacturing of mass segment cars. The new swift is not only better in performance and fuel economy, but even the interior space has been increased to offer a greater comfort the passengers. Despite more than a dozen major up-gradations in the new Swift, the price of the car has been increased marginally. The new generation Swift has been launched in the price range of Rs 4.22 lakh to Rs 6.38 lakh. In just a month of its launch in the Indian market, the bookings for the car have crossed 1,00,000 units mark. It is like raining booking at Maruti sales outlets across the country.
Everything was going Maruti’s way till August 29th. While the sales counters were filled with bookings, the company was planning to raise the production from 12,000 per month to 18,000 per month. But a sudden strike on 29th August at Maruti’s Manesar plant, which is the main manufacturing facility for Maruti Swift, left the production of Swift almost completely halted. While the company was forcing the workers to sing the new good conduct bond, most of the permanent work force refused to sign the bond. While for Maruti, the Manesar plant strike came as an unfortunate incident, the strike actually helped the new entrants like Honda Brio and Etios Liva to have a comparatively strong opening in the Indian market.
Still, it is big question weather, the Liva and Brio will be able to capitalize on the recent capacity crunch witnessed by the segment leader Maruti Swift. Below is a brief description of initial response of the buyers of these two Japanese rivals along with description of their positioning in the Indian auto market.
Toyota Etios Liva
The Etios Liva model was first showcased at the Delhi International Auto expo in January 2010, where it had attracted large number of buyers and car enthusiasts. The car was first expected to be launched in December 2010, but company decided to launch the sedan version before the hatchback. Despite grabbing headlines in the country for a long time, the Liva model hasn’t been able to match the sales of its sedan sibling Etios. While Etios sedan has a number of plus points over its closest rival Maruti Swift Dzire, the Liva hatchback has actually nothing to have an upper hand over Swift.
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As we all know, Maruti is undisputable the leader in the fields of vehicle servicing and low cost of ownership and durability of the car. Thus, the only way it can be challenged is by offering a more stylish, more loaded and more performing car, which is what the likes of Ford Figo and Volkswagen Polo have managed to do up a certain extent in the Indian auto market. Neither the engine nor the appearance of the car seems to be standing anywhere near to their counterparts in Maruti Swift. Though the base model of Liva is price at Rs 3.99 lakh (ex-showroom price), but the base variant is so lack of features that it stands nowhere in competition with the likes of new 2012 Swift and Ford Figo.
However, the recent launch of Toyota Etios Diesel shows a good prospect in the compact hatchback segment in the Indian market. Loaded with a powerful 1.4 liter engine, the Liva diesel is among the most powerful cars in its segment. But again, priced at Rs 5.54 lakh (ex showroom price), the base Liva diesel barely has a power steering to display as an essential feature. Still, with the continuously rising waiting period of Swift, the Liva diesel definitely has a chance to surge ahead in the competition.
It can be expected from Toyota that it will soon launch exciting offers to give a sales boot to its small creation Liva. The probability of even a feature upgrade in the Liva line- can’t be ruled-out, up in the coming months.
The much awaited Honda small car is now available for sale at the Honda Showrooms across the country, and the company couldn’t have found a more favorable time than the Diwali festive season for its launch in the Indian market. Despite being benefited from the high demand of festive season and very long waiting period of segments best seller Maruti Swift.
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More to it, Honda Brio has got a powerful 88 bhp engine at its heart that makes it topper in the engine performance and power segment. Adding to the attraction is its lucrative price which has been kept as low as 3.95, making it a high growth prospect in the Indian auto market. Interior fit & finish of the car is of a sublime level, and is way better as compared to the same of Liva.
But Honda Brio has its own problems. There is no diesel version available in the Brio line-up, which could have been a major sales booster for the car. Moreover, besides engine, exciting exterior, nice fit & finish inside, there seems no wow factor in the car. The interior space is not among the largest, and mileage is not exceptional.
So, the launch of Liva in June, New Maruti Swift in August and Brio in September, has raised the price war in the compact hatchback segment considerably. Going through the above reasoning, the real fight will be between Liva Diesel, Swift petrol and diesel, and Honda Brio Petrol. While Maruti need to get rid of labor problem as early as possible, Honda and Toyota have to come-up with something that look really challenging against unchallenged king of the segment Maruti Swift. The coming few months will be a great opportunity for both Liva and Brio to grab a significant chunk of market share, till Maruti manages to clear the high backlog of bookings.