News / Asia

Indian Automakers Look to Turn Around Slowing Market

Chairman of Tata Group Ratan Tata poses with Jaguar's newly launched C-X16 car during India's Auto Expo, in New Delhi January 5, 2012.
Chairman of Tata Group Ratan Tata poses with Jaguar's newly launched C-X16 car during India's Auto Expo, in New Delhi January 5, 2012.
Anjana Pasricha

For decades, compact cars was the buzzword for foreign and domestic automakers in India, but that trend appears to be shifting.

Big and expensive: those are the words that dominate new launches at the Delhi Auto Expo in the Indian capital.

Hyundai, Ford, Renault, Audi and Maruti Suzuki were among foreign and domestic auto companies that unveiled rugged sport-utility vehicles this week, to keep up with rising consumer demand.

Auto analyst Yogendra Pratap says the limelight is no longer on basic, cheap hatchbacks which automakers have sold for years.   

“I think Indian people are considering buying cars that are more stylish, that have more features and are slightly bigger," Pratap said. "People are willing to pay for the extras, whether it be space, or it be utility or it be a modern and contemporary vehicle.”   

While rising interest rates and more expensive fuel may have dampened sales of compact cars, they have not deterred more affluent customers from seeking out bigger vehicles.

Mohan Mariwala, managing director of Auto Hangar in Mumbai, sells Mercedes Benz cars. He says a luxury sedan is becoming an important symbol for a new generation with new aspirations.   

“The buying age is getting younger, it is in fact the middle class which is aspiring to jump segments and get into these cars," Mariwala said.   

Nonetheless, smaller cars are still firmly in the race in a country where car ownership is very low.   

Four years after what is known as the world’s cheapest car, the Nano, hit roads in India and captured global attention, another ultra-small car has been unveiled.  

The RE 60, made by Bajaj Autos, has a 200 cubic centimeter engine and a top speed of 70 kilometers per hour.

The company’s managing director, Rajiv Bajaj says the car will be in the market sometime this year. It is being pitched as a replacement for the popular three-wheeled taxis known as auto rickshaws, which can be seen on the streets of many Indian cities.  

“We believe in the niche, we don’t believe in the rat races of volumes,” Bajaj said.

The car could emerge as a competitor to the Nano made by Tata Motors. Priced at about $ 2,700, the Nano was hailed as an example of low-cost innovation and promised to put four wheels in the hands of tens of thousands of people.   

However, the Nano has not piled up the kind of success it had hoped to. Analysts say this is largely because of its image as a cheap car rather than an inspirational one.  

Whether it be through the compact Nano or a luxury sport-utility vehicle, automakers are looking to turn around car sales in India, which was virtually stagnant last year despite 30 percent growth in 2010.

Auto analysts say sales could bounce back as early as next year, when the economy is expected to emerge from a slowdown.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid