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Honda may mollify early hybrid buyers

autos Updated: Nov 14, 2008 20:39 IST
Sumant Banerji
Sumant Banerji
Hindustan Times
Honda Civic hybrid

First came the hefty price, then came a record discount. Now they are talking of compensation.

The Honda Civic hybrid car, dubbed as the country’s first hybrid (running on both petrol and electricity) surprised the market this month with a 40 per cent price discount, and is now mulling on paying back customers who had bought it at the original price.

The car is completely imported, but its sales suffered unsustainably because of the prohibitive price resulting from a 105 per cent import duty, company officials said, adding discounts were temporary.

The Japanese giant’s joint venture, Honda Siel Cars India, which has slashed the price of the Civic hybrid by over Rs 8 lakh, is evaluating whether it can compensate existing customers. The Civic hybrid was introduced with a price of Rs 21.5 lakh in June but is now available at Rs 13.36 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).

“People have been asking whether existing customers who bought it at the higher price may be compensated and we may take a call on it,” said the company spokesperson.

“We are however not duty bound to do it as we did check with our lawyers whether there is anything illegal with the discount and were told that pricing is completely a manufacturer's decision.”

Despite receiving rave reviews, the car has realised sales of only 30-35 units in the last five months. But the discount, which is the biggest in automotive history in the country, has revived interest in the car with over 100 units being despatched to dealers in two days.

Honda has already exhausted the first consignment of nearly 200 hybrids and a second shipment is on its way.