?Low-end market will grow? | india | Hindustan Times
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?Low-end market will grow?

Rahul Bajaj, chairman of Bajaj Auto Ltd (BAL) has been a key automobile industry player, both in the controlled and liberalised eras. In an interview with the Hindustan Times, he speaks about the prospects for the industry. Excerpts:

india Updated: Jan 18, 2004 01:25 IST

Rahul Bajaj, chairman of Bajaj Auto Ltd (BAL) has been a key automobile industry player, both in the controlled and liberalised eras. In an interview with the Hindustan Times, he speaks about the prospects for the industry. Excerpts:

Non-participation in the auto-expo by several players: In a competitive market, automobile makers look at the cost benefit analysis of displaying their wares at the Auto Expo. Margins are already under pressure.

All players will no longer take part in Expo. Decisions will be taken on the basis of prospective models to be launched.

Auto growth trends: The scooter and sub-Rs. 3 lakh car market will grow exponentially in next five years.

India can emerge as a major manufacturing base with tremendous reforms over the next five years.

Pitfalls to be avoided: The stock market will continue to fluctuate so be prepared for market going down as well. Job cuts and voluntary retirements can no longer be avoided. Pain and suffering are inevitable and essential.

Areas of concern: The capital goods industry continues to post negative growth. There has to be retaionalisation of tariff structures in components and finished goods.

Launch of top end cars: The companies are launching them to build brand name and create excitement. Most of them are not setting up manufacturing facilities.

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‘We are bullish on exports’

Buoyed by the success in the passenger car segment, Tata Motors has launched the Tata Indigo Marina, a station wagon. But V. Sumantran, the company's executive director, does not want to give details of future launches. In an interview with Hindustan Times he says the company's market share will have to grow. Excerpts:

On high value versus value-for-money cars: Most such models have grown from value segments. If there are incumbents and we are new entrants, we have to tell the customer that we are giving them true value. In the high price segment, though, the volumes may not be very large. But the players may not be interested in lower models.

On Tata’s sports model: Indica Sports would be launched very soon. We have been busy with launches of Indigo and Indigo Marina. However we plan to bring it to market very soon. On further launches, the new Sumo platform will be ready around 2005 and we will have different body styles on the platform.

On exports: We are very bullish about exports. Last year our exports grew by 40 per cent and we hope to maintain the momentum. Our recently signed contract with MG Rover will mean 20,000 exports to U.K. each year. We are in talks with Iran Khodro for exporting Indicas or even assembling them in Iran.

(Kuber Sharma)

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‘We’ll bring in more SUVs’

Japan’s third largest car manufacturer Nissan is entering the luxury segment with its SUV, the X-trail, which will start at Rs 20 lakh. Masahiro Toi, the company's chief product specialist, who is in India to promote the vehicle, says in an interview with the Hindustan Times that the SUV market in the country is poised for growth. Excerpts:

On the potential of the SUV market in India: At the moment the market size is not huge. But as in China, which has a market, population is a factor in India. The economy is strong too. In Europe earlier the SUV market was small but grew rapidly. We see that sort of thing happening in India as well. The market will grow.

On selecting the X-trail for the Indian market: This is our introductory model (in India) and even though it is a top model it is a strong model.

We took our feedback from customers wherever we introduced the X-Trail before and incorporated those changes. We could bring in more SUVs to India.

On customer reaction in India: We have talked to many customers in India. They are the ones who go abroad at least twice a year and are aware of the Nissan brand. We have to get the latest models for them.

On future launches: Slowly we plan to unveil further models in the Nissan range in India. Along with the Nissan models, we will also bring in our partner Renault’s cars as the market progresses.

(Kuber Sharma)

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LAUNCH UPDATE

AUDI TT

This sports coupe will be Audi’s entry vehicle for India. Has 1.8 litre turbo charged engine.

USP: Speed and good looks

Rs 30 lakh+, launch in late 2004

HYUNDAI ACCENT CRDI

This is modelled on the popular Accent. Has great sporty looks to attract young buyers.

USP: Low running costs

Rs 5-7 lakh, launch in June 2004

HYUNDAI GETZ

A hatchback model that is larger than the Santro. Will come with 1.3 litre petrol or 1.5 litre diesel engine.

USP: A spacious supermini

Rs 4.5 lakh+, launch in late 2004

NISSAN X-TRAIL

Monocoque chassis and lower weight. Has a 2.2 litre engine. Likely to be followed by other Nissans.

USP: Stylish and comfortable

Rs 20 lakh+, launch in May 2004

SKODA FABIA

Skoda’s entry level car in India. Has 1.6 / 1.8 litre engine. Could be joined by station wagon version.

USP: High quality and brand value

Rs 8 lakh, launch in late 2004

SKODA SUPERB

This 5m long car aims to offer E class luxury for C class money. Has 2.6 litre V6 engine. 190 bhp.

USP: Offers affordable European luxury

Rs 24 lakh, launch by June 2004

HYUNDAI ELANTRA

With a 1.8 litre engine, this is a value for money proposition that will be pitted against the Optra and Skoda Fabia.

USP: Spacious interiors

Rs 9 lakh+, launch in mid-2004

TATA INDIGO MARINA

A station wagon showing latest body style from Tata Motors. Has 1.4 litre petrol or diesel engine.

USP: Spacious interiors

Rs 5.5 lakh+, launch in late 2004