The Indian car industry has gathered steam only in the last decade. Just imagine - 15 years back, there were only two cars being manufactured in India, the vintage Hindustan Ambassador and the venerable Premier Padmini. The Ambassador was the Indian version of the Morris Oxford, while the Padmini was based on an ancient Fiat model. Compare that to today, when every major automobile manufacturer has its cars on the road in India. 2005 is the year when India is poised to see more automobile launches that before. Let's take a look at the vehicles that are expected.
Toyota has three vehicles in the Indian market - the Toyota Qualis, Camry and Corolla. The Qualis is the most outdated of the lot, with the looks of a breadbox. However, this model was extremely succesful in India due to its reliability and was used by many taxi operators in the country. Toyota has just withdrawn the vehicle from the market, and is about to introduce the Innova, a much more modern MPV in the minivan mould that can hold its own amongst the latest international vehicles. The pricing is expected to be around that of the now-extinct Qualis, making it approachable for the Indian middle-class.
Skoda will be launching its small car Fabia in India by mid-2005. While the ocompany has yet not decided on whether the model in India should be a sedan, hatchback or estate, this car is bound to have a following. This is partly due to the tremendous reputation Skoda enjoys in India due to its highly succesful Octavia range. The power unit too is still undecided, but what we believe is that it will be priced at the same level as Honda's highly succesful small car, the Honda City.
Maruti Suzuki Swift
Maruti is India's most succesful automobile company, and Suzuki recently acquired a controlling stake in it. The Swift will be Maruti's first radical, contemporary vehicle. The company has always preferred to play it safe, and has introduced tried-and-tested vehicle models from the Suzuki stable. The Swift is based on Suzuki's famous Concept S design unveiled at teh 2002 Paris Auto Show, and will be launched in India with the reliable Maruti Esteem's (an older Suzuki Swift version) 1300 cc petrol engine in India.
The Fortuner will be launched in the later half 2005 in India. It is a small-SUV which should give a run to the Honda CR-V which rules th SUV market in India now. The Fortuner is based on the same platform as the Innova. Excellent styling, car-like interiors and slightly cheaper pricing that its competitors will see it doing well in the Indian market. This ladder-on-chassis, common rail diesel engine (CRDI) seems to the perfect recipe for the penny-pinching but power-loving Indian.
The Fusion has already been launched in India. It is a small car, but with SUV style. The car is positioned in India as vehicle for the active young driver who has a family. The car is powered by a 16 Valve, 1600 cc light-weight alloy engine that is good enough for around 100 bhp. The reviewers have loved it, and the market seems to be falling for it too, though it is too early to tell.
There are some other cars too - such as the Chevrolet Aveo and the Hyundai Tucson - but details are still not forthcoming at this point.
About The Author
The author is an ex-motoring journalist, and currently edits the website www.dancewithshadows.com