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Auto August: Seven launches to stir up market

When in trouble launch a new car, or so goes an old adage in the automobile industry. Sumant Banerji reports. A month of rediscovery?

autos Updated: Aug 01, 2011 02:02 IST
Sumant Banerji
Sumant Banerji
Hindustan Times

When in trouble launch a new car, or so goes an old adage in the automobile industry.

And if you don't have a new car to launch, just refresh an existing vehicle, and create a lot of noise to go with it.

With consumer sentiment bearish and sales plunging with every passing week, the domestic automobile industry is getting into the overdrive mode. An unprecedented 7 launches are in the offing over the next four weeks making this August the busiest ever. The industry is hoping these new cars would bring freedom from the slowdown.

"The way the market is right now, it definitely needs the spark that comes with a new launch," said Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Honda Siel Cars India. "I do not think these have been planned specifically for this month as a product re-launch needs a lot of planning that goes back for months. But the launches are happening at the right time when the market needs that extra thrust."

Getting things started would be the launch of a cheaper 4X2 version of Tata's ambitious crossover Aria on Tuesday followed by Audi's new super luxury sedan, the A6.

But the activity would reach a crescendo only in the middle of the month when market leader Maruti ushers in the new Swift, a car that has already received over 35,000 bookings. Swift would be followed by a facelifted Honda Jazz and the only absolutely new car to hit the roads during the month - the SUV Force One with which Force Motors is making its entry in the passenger vehicle segment.

While the growth in the industry has slid to single digit in the first quarter of this financial year, only new launches like Hyundai Verna, Maruti SX4, Toyota Etios sedan and Liva hatchback are bringing in incremental volumes. Sales of the old warhorses is stagnating.

"This is a tough time for the market and growth is visible only in the case of new launches like the Verna," said Arvind Saxena, director marketing and sales, Hyundai Motor India Ltd. "But development of a new car takes years of planning and it is not possible to launch a car every month."

First Published: Jul 31, 2011 22:48 IST