Japanese car major Honda on Tuesday launched its smallest and by far the cheapest car worldwide — the Brio at a price between Rs3.95 lakh and Rs5.1 lakh (ex-showroom).
India is only the second market in the world after Thailand where the car has been launched but it is around 60% cheaper here. However, contrary to most Honda cars but in consonance to all other products in the segment, the entry level Brio does not have safety features like airbags and anti lock braking system (ABS).
“This is our smallest car but it signifies the biggest commitment by global Honda,” said Takashi Nagai, president and CEO, Honda Siel Cars India. “Brio announces our presence in the mass market segment and we expect large share of customers from smaller towns.”
Like all Honda cars, Brio suffers from a lack of a diesel engine, a big handicap in a market where the difference in price of diesel and petrol is widening. Share of diesel car sales in the segment has also gone up in the last one year from 30% to 50%. The company is hoping for a leadership position among the petrol cars in the segment.
“While there is high dieselisation in the country, we are competitive on overall cost of ownership,” said Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice-president (marketing and sales), HSCI. “We believe factors like looks, technology, performance and fuel economy would help customers overlook the petrol-diesel comparison.”Brio competes with the likes of Maruti Swift, Toyota Liva, Nisan Micra, VW Polo, Skoda Fabia and Hyundai i10, a segment that has emerged as the most competitive and cluttered in the industry. It is one of the smallest cars in this category but has the most powerful engine and also one of the highest fuel economies.
Honda refused to give a sales target for the car but it would be hoping for a very different outcome from its first small car Jazz.
Next up, could be a sedan based on the car, a route that , many other carmakers such as Maruti Suzuki, Toyota and Volkswagen have successfully taken.