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Auto makers in festival frenzy

autos Updated: Sep 27, 2011 02:14 IST
Sumant Banerji

With around two dozen car launches since the start of August, car makers are falling over each other to introduce new vehicles into the market in time to whip up enough consumer demand before the festive season and tide away the clouds of slowdown.

A number of launches such as Mahindra's global SUV, XUV 500, Hyundai's Eon and the diesel versions of the Toyota Etios sedan and Liva hatchback, have been advanced as the festive season that begins by the month-end is seen as the best phase to log higher sales.

"The market continues to be tough due to higher interest rates and rising fuel costs," said Arvind Saxena, director (marketing and sales), Hyundai Motor India Ltd. "Only new cars have been able to bring customers into showrooms and post growth."

The Eon will pose the first real test to the 7-year long dominance of the Maruti Alto as the best selling car in the country. Originally slated for a 2012 launch, it has a 3 cylinder 814cc petrol engine, is wider and taller than the Alto and also more fuel efficient. With a launch in October, it is expected to be priced between Rs 2.6 lakh and Rs 3.7 lakh.

The other big launch would be Tuesday's debut of the Honda Brio. That would be followed almost immediately with the launch of Mahindra's sports utility vehicle the XUV500.

"There is always increased acitivity during the festive season but this year it is even higher," said Vishnu Mathur, director general, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. "Not only have the number of companies in India gone up but there is also a realisation that this is the best time for a turnaround (in sales) as generally consumer sentiment is bullish during this period."