The mid-size car segment has been dominated by Honda, ever since it first introduced the Honda City sedan in the Indian auto market. Recently the Japanese automaker, got competition from European auto giant Volkswagen in the form of Vento. With the Vento’s competitive pricing, vast promotions displaying the benefits of German tech, as well as their diesel offering coming when the price of petrol is 40% higher than diesel, it is no surprise that the Vento managed to steal the City’s long occupied position.
The Vento managed to dislodge the leader in the mid-size car segment, the Honda City in just 8 months since its launch, occupying the top position for two successive months. Volkswagen sold around 6,839 Ventos for the month of March to April, while Honda sold 4,315 City models in the same period.
According to reports, the Vento is VW’s most visible success in the Indian market, where it began production just two years back. The manufacturer managed to capture a 2% market share in India, worth Rs.87,500 crore, by offering four major models across four different segment of the auto market, growing 30% in the last financial year.
The VW Group’s director of sales, Neeraj Garg was quoted as saying that they are lucky that they could achieve so much in such a competitive market. having a 360 degree advance towards delivering international standard quality at domestic prices has helped them tremendously.
The Vento was launched in July with a price of Rs.6.99 lakhs, which made it the cheapest available petrol powered mid-size sedan in the country. The competitive pricing is further enhanced by contemporary technology and German precision. Moreover, the company is quite appealing to young Indian consumers who are image conscious and want to buy a car that has European designs coupled with modern technology.
For example, their premium Passat features their BlueMotion technology which delivers greater fuel efficiency as well as reduced emission. Another major thing they have going for them are their diesel offerings. There are the sole car manufacturers in the world that offer their entire lineup which ranges from SUVs to sedans to hatchbacks, in both petrol and diesel variants.
In a major contrast, Honda lacks when it comes to diesel tech, with even Maruti entering the diesel market in late 2007. VW has reportedly also jumped onto the bandwagon of manufacturers using cricket as a medium for their promotional strategies. They are currently the IPL Season 4 official partner as well as for an official partner for the next IPL season.
The company also launched a special IPL edition Vento, coinciding with the T20 games. The features of this special edition car include a multimedia player with colour touch screen and navigation system as well as leatherette seats. As the IPL’s official partner they get many marketing and branding opportunities, when their technology and cars are displayed during every match.
In spite of all the generated buzz, the company could reportedly have problems keeping up with demand. Their operation in India is struggling because of production constraints due to shortage of supply parts from their vendors. The waiting periods for Vento and Polo have fallen from the earlier high 12 week period in 2007, to 5 to 7 weeks now, but customers could still not like waiting this long.
Garg said that they are working to ensure that 1.1 lakh cars are produced every year so as to cut down on delivery time. They recently started their third shift in their Chakan plant located on the outskirts of Pune, where both the Vento and Polo are manufactured, taking their monthly production capacity to more than 6,000 cars every month, compared to the previous 1,500 cars.