08 September 2013

Only In India - The Tale of Compact Sedan

If there's one weird category of vehicle, this is one of it. In India, there is an incentive in terms of excise duty slash for a compact car  measuring less 4.0m and has engine capacity of maximum 1.2L for petrol and 1.5L for diesel. Instead of the usual 24% tax, the compact sedan is charged only 12%. This segment is lucrative and growing big. Mid last year, this segment grows by 30% while the India total automotive market grows at only 7.2%. 

Manufacturer is rushing to capitalize on this loop hole. They aim to give the maximum to the buyer at the lower side of 4.0m. The tax incentive will make it a credible business case as the final price will entice the buyer from sedan segment up, and worth the weird solution or awkward silhouette. The most popular approach is to lengthen the hatchback to the brim of 4.0m, while there are also manufacturer that chopped the tail of their sedan instead. We now heard Volkswagen is developing a challenger for this segment in based on Volkswagen Up architecture and Toyota too is working on a sedanized Toyota Etios Liva which is already based on the sedan Etios.

Honda Amaze (Honda Brio Amaze outside India) is the current biggest seller of the segment, and it has placed Honda as the top four manufacturer in India recently. It has displaced the previous class stalwart, Maruti Swift Dzire. Lets have a look at the popular offering in this segment.

As we know Honda Amaze it is the booted version of Honda Brio. You can check the launch detail <HERE>. It is 3,990mm long (remember the limit is 4,000mm), some 380mm longer than Honda Brio Hatchback and sits on 60mm longer wheelbase at 2,405mm. Apart from having a cushier seats than its rival, its 400L boot volume is commanding too. It has the usual Honda quality which results in more premium looking bodystyle and cabin finish compared to the model developed in the India homeland.

The other competitor is Maruti Swift Dzire. It is based on Suzuki Swift we all like, but with the boot strapped behind and manufactured by Indian's Maruti. The boot is supershort, it needs to be to slip below 4.0m at 3,991m as the donor Swift is already 3,850mm in the first place. Sharing 2,430mm with the hatchback, the poor boot volume of the hatchback has been increased to a more credible 316L. 

The newest challenger coming this year is Mahinda Verito Vibe. Verito is the rehashed Dacia Logan, which took the world by storm last decade with its 5,000 Euros cars. Having it second life in India, Mahinda has chopped the tail to comply with the compact car rule. No one thought that the boot can be any shorter than Swift Dzire, but Mahinda has different idea. Measuring 3,991mm long, it is much shorter than the 4,277mm sedan it is based on. The boot also is a hybrid between hatchback and sedan whereby it is hatchback in look, but open in sedan style. 

Can we implement the same strategy in Malaysia? Instead of giving incentive to hybrid cars which is beyond reach for many people, why don't we populate the low end of the market. It could kill the national car, but if in return we can have so many specialized model from the global manufacturer why not? What about unregulating only one segment of the market, let's say compact MPV with engine capacity of less than 1.5L, accomodate 7 people and maximum 4.2m in length? Or a 4 door segment with maximum 1.0L engine capacity and 400L boot?

More information about any of these cars can be obtained from India website linked below:

No comments: