The Indian auto market has witnessed steep rise in demand for automatic cars. Data suggests that one out of every six, car buyers prefers an automatic gearbox to a manual transmission. Moreover, the demand has not limited to luxury sedans and SUVs, but small car buyers are also opting for automatic transmission.
According to Mr. Jnaneshar Sen, Senior Vice President Marketing & Sales, Honda India, the conditions of driving in the country is very rough and challenging, making automatic transmission a practical option. Indian drivers tackle through crammed city roads, rising traffic density and stop-n-go commuting on the road.
With automatic transmission, the drivers find it easy to smoothly cruise through the driving conditions with a single shift and clutchless driving. It does away with the complicated dodgy gearbox with six shifts and employs accelerator and brake pedal to make driving easy. With the need of clutching and de-clutching gone away, the overall driving effort is reduced by 60 percent in comparison to manual cars. This drift towards automatic transmission cars, the major automotive manufacturers are compelled to offer the volume-driven, small cars with automatic transmission choice. Small car segment has automatic options in the Hyundai i10 and i20, Maruti A-star, Dzire, etc.
Although the top-end automatic transmission cars cost about 15 to 30 percent more than the manual counterparts, the buyers are still liable of going for the automatic cars. According to Maruti Suzuki India’s Managing Executive Officer of Marketing, Mr. Mayank Pareek, the Indian market has only recently been exposed to automatic transmission cars and there is a great potential in the segment with the prevailing conditions. He also suggested that Indian drivers get numbed left leg because of continuous clutching and de-clutching, which is why the automatic transmission is the best option.
Honda India has also reported rapid sales of its automatic transmission cars and Mr. Jnaneshwar Sen suggested that the new Honda City automatic accounted for 13 percent of the total sales of the sedan and now the figure has risen to 23 percent. Moreover, while 32 percent of the total sales of the Honda Civic sedan sold are automatic variants, the high-end models of CR-V and Accord sell over 60 percent automatic variants. Mr Sen also announced that with improvement in technology, the automatic cars are delivering fuel efficiency figures similar to that of manual transmission cars.
German automakers like Mercs, BMW and Audi have promoted the automatic transmission cars by offering automatic versions in premium class sedans. With the coming of bigger fishes like Nissan, Volkswagen, Renault and Skoda, the Indian auto market has witnessed a growth in automatic transmission segment from 2 percent to 14 percent in past five years.
According to Mr. Arvind Saxena, MD Hyundai India, the diminishing price gap between automatic and manual cars is also a major factor in promoting sales of AT cars. The automatic gearbox replaces the traditional six speed gearbox and employs up to eight speed shift without having to move the lever. Some cars also sport the pedal shifters, which bring the joy of manual driving. Indian customers these days are opting automatic transmission in cars like and Honda City etc.