With 2010 already behind us and looking forward to new launches in 2011, the Indian auto industry has been on a rise steadily. It is estimated that in a few years, most of the Indians would be on wheels or would have already booked their set of wheels. This perspective has been taken entirely on the basis of the urban populace. But then last year was not too bad in terms of significant launches. We also saw some of the cars made specifically for the Indian market. I have listed out a few of the cars which have come to mind and which made a striking impression on me. I know there have been more than 12 launches in last year but then I have mostly avoided variants of existing platform or ones which have got just engine changes or no major structural changes.
Toyota Fortuner –
This much in demand brute of an SUV was finally launched by Toyota Kirloskar Motors. Back then, this SUV had garnered so much support that even before the vehicle was launched, the bookings for it were flat out over. So much so was the vehicle in demand that the company had to stop the bookings of this SUV, then once again start them, close down again and now once again started. I personally feel that the Toyota Fortuner in India is overhyped as it gets the familiar interiors carried over from the Toyota Innova. But then buyers in this category get the road presence which they so much cleave for. I can go as far as to say this that there is not any other car in its segment which commands so much road presence as the Toyota Fortuner. Inspite of the somewhat high price, the SUV still stands tall amongst all others.
Toyota Prius –
This, though not been a volumes generator, since it is brought via the CKD route, is definitely a brand booster. The Toyota Prius is the epitome of technology as far as hybrids go. It has got more technology to keep Silicon city busy. It is also one of the greenest petrol cars in the world. Not to mention the slew of awards it has received over the years across the world. Its realistic fuel efficiency of 24.3 kmpl in city conditions is something which we can talk of as legendary. There is no limitation of range as is the case with electric cars. It looks futuristic, has the same futuristic theme carried inside and also the space to go with all this jazz. Its high sticker price of Rs 28 lakhs is the reason why many people shy away from this wonderful automobile. It however is one of the significant launches of 2010.
Toyota Etios –
This car was launched towards the end of the year however the hype surrounding it goes way back from 2006 when it was in concept stages. But when it finally broke cover, it was hit by brick bats for its boring design. But then people began to realize the potential behind this car. A Toyota available for as less as Rs 5 lakhs. That is really a must have for anyone. It is also a built for India car. The interiors though may not have the pizzaz of other Toyotas, stands good for the build quality scene. It has got the space, pace, fuel efficiency and most importantly the correct price tag. No wonder that it was lapped up in way of bookings and the company had to resort to making its staff work overtime. Personally given anytime, I would put my money on this car.
Ford Figo –
The Blue Oval brand is one which specially makes cars for the Indian subcontinent. The Ford Figo is no different. Even before it could complete a year on Indian soil, more than 70,000 cars have been sold. Not to mention the various awards that it has garnered on the way. It is also the “Indian Car Of The Year” for the year 2010. The interiors are a nice place to be and it is also very fuel efficient. Though the car lacks in some essential features, it still is a very good buy and available at what we can call as a very competitive price.
Chevrolet Beat –
This small car offering from General Motors wowed the clientele the moment they saw it. It has really for upbeat looks, one which unanimously every one would agree to be very futuristic. To gel with the exteriors, the interiors also have been given the funky treatment. For the very first time, the Indian car scene has seen a car sporting racing bike meters. Space though is a premium for the northward inclined. The engine also is at par with the looks and it is also fuel efficient. This was the other winner which garnered enough sales to keep the GM cashier fuming over the work pressure he must be getting.
Volkswagen Vento –
This is another car which is a made for India product. It is actually the Polo with a boot tacked on. Nowhere in the world has Europe’s largest car manufacturer introduced a country specific car. The Vento has got both petrol and diesel models in its arsenal, something which its targeted competition (read the Honda City) lacks. It has got German precision engineering, high rent interiors, good boot space and it drives well. Needless to say, this is another car which got all the Volkswagen dealers busy and the Honda City makers some sleepless nights. It also has got a waiting period of 3-4 months, to say the least.
Tata Aria –
This crossover was showcased at various auto shows world around but then when it was finally unveiled, it looked exactly what one would think of a concept car. It looks like a Tata, after all those Indigo Manzas and Vistas. The bold stance of the crossover reminds one of the Tata Safari when it was launched. The interior quality is unlike any other Tata and was actually close to General Motor vehicles. No uneven panel gaps or ill fitting plastics. The seating as always is perfect for 7. But then comes the almost CBU like pricing of Rs 15 lakhs and above. This car wouldn’t be a volumes generator for the company but then it showcases the company’s commitment to bringing in better build quality to its cars in future.
Hyundai Santa Fe –
Like the Toyota Fortuner, this was also a long in the coming vehicle from Hyundai Motors. But finally when it landed on Indian shores, every automobile journalist worth his salt praised the car no doubt. It was loaded to the gills with features that could shame even an executive class luxury sedan. It had the commanded road presence, bomb of a diesel engine, good fuel economy and above all space for 7. Like the Toyota Fortuner, it is also priced at a premium and allocations for the entire 2010 has been completed.
Skoda Yeti –
The Yeti concept was shown to the general public as early as 2005. But then it was never thought that this car would be brought down to India. Everyone was praises for this small SUV but then when Skoda announced the price, everyone was shaking their heads in dismay. It is too small, doesn’t have enough road presence and is still available for more than Rs 15 lakhs. Price been the only dampener in a car which is fully loaded, comes with a single diesel engine which is miles ahead of its competition, has a handy 4×4 and good space for 5. Well, I am yet to see a Skoda Yeti on the road but then it may be the price quotient which may not to be in every one’s budget. The manufacturer now has a presence in almost all segments of the Indian automobile market.
Volvo XC60 –
This very capable SUV from Volvo’s stables has captured the hearts of automobile aficionados world wide. Launched in India last year, this SUV has also exhausted all of its alloted number for the country. It is Volvo’s revolution in terms of design which has done wonders for this SUV. It can also off-road in aplomb unlike its competitors which shy away at the mention of off-roading. It has got a competitive price tag, one which undercuts some of its competition. Not to mention the bagful of safety equipment that it carries. It is touted to be the company’s savior in India and I am sure that it has already done half of that work within 2 months of its launch.
Nissan Micra –
Nissan Micra is the car which actually turned around Nissan Motors fortunes in India. This car which is the smallest offering from the company is made in India now. It has got the perfect mix of looks, space, fuel efficiency, driveability and price. Moreover, Nissan have given it the right kind of exposure by getting Bollywood hearthrob Ranbir Kapoor to promote this car. No wonder that this cars are just flying off the shelves. With the new diesel variant launched recently, it is no doubt that Nissan Micra is one of the most desired hatchbacks in its segment.
BMW X1 –
This baby of an SUV from the blue and white propeller badge was kind of unexpected but then BMW wanted to capture the market in a big way. What better way than to locally produce an SUV and sell it? Yes, this is the same path which BMW have followed and are first amongst the premium German trio to launch an SUV at a Rs 22 lakhs price. Not to forget, the stunning performance, fuel efficiency that it gives. Mind you, the price point doesn’t mean that BMW have diluted any of their brand’s values. It is just some skimping of equipment ( which is not required as it is) for the lower end. But then if you want more equipment, there is an optional package albeit at a higher price. All these SUVs also have been a complete sellout proposition with 6 months waiting periods.
Well, these were some of the pathbreaking vehicles launched in the Indian market in the year 2010. I know, I have missed out on the Polo, Alto K10 and the Buggati Grand Veyron Sport. But then all these cars are either hand me down iterations or like the Buggati, not at all value for money proposition. If at all, there is a story coming down about the 20 most significant launches of 2010, then I promise that I would certainly cover the ones that I missed out on.