The first day of the Auto Expo, the 13th edition of the biennial automobile show that kicked off here on Wednesday, seemed to lack a punch, partly reflecting the continued weakness in demand across showrooms outside of the metros, multiple launch failures and deeper discounts sustaining sales in urban areas. The recent apex court rulings over diesel vehicle registration and bringing forward of stricter emission norms to have added to the woes of the auto firms, something that was singled out by the carmakers at the expo as a big area of uncertainty.
The expo kicked off with the country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India unveiling its new compact SUV Vitara Brezza, a car that created the biggest stir on the first day of the event, which has product displays from over 100 exhibitors which include 65 vehicle manufacturers, and is likely to see a number of product launches.
Despite this line-up, the focus was on those who decided to give the event a miss, including several key vehicle manufacturers such as Bajaj Auto, Skoda Auto, Volvo, Eicher Motors and Harley Davidson.
The three big-ticket launches included the Suzuki Vitara Brezza, which is among the first of a new range of products in which the company’s Indian engineers have played a bigger role in designing and development as parent Suzuki steps up its research and development efforts in its biggest global market.
Maruti Vitara Brezza First Look Video
A transformative effort by Tata Motors created a stir as the company showcased its future range of passenger vehicles and signalled a conscious effort to break from the past — including the Nano.
The new launches including a compact sedan named Kite 5, an SUV christened Hexa and a compact SUV called Nexon. Later in the day, Japanese car major Toyota Motor Corp launched the all-new Innova Crysta, an upgraded version of the popular people mover that got a premium touch, a new and powerful engine and bigger dimensions.
With Vitara Brezza, Maruti Suzuki hopes to reclaim its domination of the small SUV market that started with the Maruti Gypsy.
“In ‘Suzuki Next 100’, our mid-term management plan, India is positioned as the most strategic market and production base. I am proud to introduce the brand new Vitara Brezza. It is developed under a unique process to design, with a special focus on taste and values of Indian customers,” Suzuki Motor Corporation President and Chief Operating Officer T Suzuki told reporters here.
The model will compete with the Ford EcoSport and Mahindra TUV300, while the top variants of the car would be pitched against Renault Duster and Hyundai Creta. The Vitara Brezza is likely to a priced aggressively, in the Rs 7-10 lakh range. The total investment on the development of the vehicle is estimated at Rs 860 crore.
The Brezza and the newly launched Baleno are two of the 15 new models that Maruti Suzuki will launch in the next five years as it aims to sell two million units annually by 2020. MSI had showcased the concept of the compact SUV as the concept car ‘XA Alpha’ in the 2012 Auto Expo held in the Capital.
Alongside the launches, Tata Motors said it will rename its soon-to-be launched hatchback ‘Zica’ in the next few weeks in view of the outbreak of Zika virus that has hit several Latin American nations.
Japan ahoy, for the made-in-India Baleno
On January 30, the first batch of Maruti’s new premium hatchback — Baleno — was dispatched to Japan, making it the first time when a carmaker exported a made-in-India vehicle to the island nation. As part of its global strategy, Suzuki has chalked out plans to export its products to over 100 countries. Launched in October, the Baleno was showcased at the Tokyo Motor Show. ENS