New Delhi: Day one of the 9th Auto Expo in New Delhi saw some big ticket launches, announcements, tie-ups and displays as the world’s best auto companies participate in the week-long mega event. Livemint brings to you a brief round up of the day’s major happenings at Pragati Maidan:
BMW launches M series in India
German car maker BMW India launched its luxury BMW M series and BMW Individual in the domestic market. BMW M6 coupe has a price tag of a whopping Rs1.24 crore, while BMW M5 sedan comes for Rs1.01 crore. BMW M3 Coupe is priced at Rs74.9 lakh and the BMW X5 4.8i under the Individual series costs Rs79 lakh. All prices are ex-showroom (Delhi).
Peter Kronschnabel, BMW India president said the company had increased its production capacity in the Chennai plant from 1,700 units to 3,000 units with a marginal investment of Rs3 crore and are looking at selling 3,000 units in calender 2008.
Skoda to more than double capacity; presents new Fabia
Skoda Auto will more than double the production capacity of its Aurangabad plant this year as it launches its new premier hatchback Fabia in the Indian market.
“Skoda is looking at India as a key market and our goal is long sustainability. We will increase capacity of our Aurangabad plant in 2008 to over 30,000 units from the current 12,600 units,” Skoda Auto India Pvt Ltd Board Member Thomas Kuehl told reporters.
Two new models would be launched every year for customers in the country with the new Fabia priced between Rs4.99 lakh to Rs7.68 lakh for this year and a new Sport Utility Vehicle for 2009. The company will additionally focus on increasing local content to take it up to 30-40% from the current 15%.
Daimler unveils two models for Indian market
Luxury car maker Daimler AG launched two models Mercedes Benz ‘C class´ and ‘CLK class´ priced at Rs27 lakh and Rs60 lakh respectively (ex-showroom Delhi).
They are targeting sales of 3,000 units in this calendar year, up from 2,491 units in last year. “With the two launches we hope to sell 3,000 units in India in the current calendar year and expect to maintain double digit sales growth in India over the next 10 years,” said Joachim Schmidt, Daimler Central Europe, Africa and Asia president. Commercial operations in India will commence by 2009.
Skoda Auto sees India capacity doubling in 2008
Volkswagen’s Czech unit Skoda Auto sees India capacity doubling to 30,000 units in 2008, when it will launch a new small car model, a senior company official said. With sales of 9,308 units in nine months to December, Skoda has a miniscule share of India’s passenger car market that sold 1.1 million units in the same period.
Skoda’s stable includes the compact Fabia and mid-sized Octavia and Combi.“We will increase our capacity in 2008 to nearly 30,000,” Reinhard Jung, chairman of the company’s board informed.
Ashok Leyland-Nissan JV shortlist AP, TN for plant
Hinduja Group’s flagship firm Ashok Leyland, which has struck up a JV with Japan’s Nissan for producing LCVs, said it had shortlisted Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh as possible locations for setting up a manufacturing plant.
The company also said it was looking at possibilities of getting a new platform from its Japanese partner for developing inter-city buses, although two firms have identified three light commercial vehicles (LCVs) for production in the country.
The Chennai-based company announced plans of launching 20 products in the coming fiscal, both in the domestic and international market, as part of plans to shore up sales.
The company also unveiled a new iBus, an electronically advanced intracity bus and was looking at getting help from Nissan for its inter city buses.
Volkswagen to expand presence in India, produce 110,000 cars from 2009
German automaker Volkswagen AG is expanding its presence in India, aiming to launch two more sedans in the country this year and produce 110,000 cars a year there from 2009, when a new plant begins operations.
Cars to be introduced to the market this year include Jetta and Phaeton luxury sedan, Joerg Mueller, president, Volkswagen India Pvt. Ltd. said Wednesday. The Jetta will be priced at Rs1.4 million.
“We are in a starting phase for India. Jetta will be assembled at Aurangabad from the middle of this year,” Mueller told reporters. Volkswagen introduced its Passat sedan in India in September 2007. It is currently assembled at the Skoda Auto India plant in Aurangabad, in Maharashtra.
Cars planned for production at the new plant include a hatchback based on the Polo and the Fabia hatchback model. Volkswagen will start making small cars at the new plant from 2010, joining the growing list of foreign automakers looking at the high-volume domestic small-car segment.
Honda launches ‘Aviator’ scooter
Two wheeler maker Honda Motorcycles Scooter India unveiled its new automatic scooter Aviator priced at Rs39,675 (ex-showroom Delhi). The 102cc powered scooter will be available across the country from March onwards. The company is targeting to sell 1 lakh units of Aviator in the next fiscal.
“Aviator is targeted at males and we plan to sell about 1lakh units of the scooter in the next fiscal. Our overall target of sales is around 1 million units of which 7 lakh will be scooters and three lakh motorcycles during this period,” according to NK Rattan, head sales and marketing.
Fiat (I) to roll out four cars this year
Four new cars will be launched by the company by the year end. “The company will bring in ‘Fiat 500´ and ‘Bravo´ as completely built-in units from Italy and delivery would start three months from now,” Alfredo Altavilla, Fiat India vice-chairman informed media persons. Besides these two models, they will also roll out ‘Grande Punto´ and ‘Linea´ from its Ranjangaon facility in Q3 of 2008-09. Fiat markets its vehicles in India through the Tata Motors dealer network.
Suzuki Motor unveils A-star concept
Demonstrating the importance it attaches to the Indian market, Suzuki Motor Corporation today showcased its fifth global car ‘A-star´ concept, which will be manufactured only in India. The company showcased two other concept cars ‘Splash´ and ‘Kazshi´. “Our new plant in Manesar will play an important role in Suzuki Motor Co’s target of selling three billion units globally by FY 2008-09. Production of A-star will begin here from October,” Shinzo Nakanishi, MD, Maruti Suzuki India said today.
Production of A-star will start from October this year for the Indian market and then subsequently it would be exported overseas, he said. Nakanishi also said Maruti will launch one new model in India every year to consolidate its market position.
GM (I) plans CNG/LPG powered Aveo; launches SUV Captiva
The company is mulling iover launching alternate fuel powered variants of its mid-size sedan Aveo, as it finalizes plans to set up a power train (engine and transmissions) manufacturing facility in the country.
“We are working on alternate fuel (CNG and LPG) powered Aveo but have not set a time-frame by when we would launch these cars in the country,” Karl Slym, GM India president and managing director said adding that the company already sells its premium sedan Optra with a dual fuel option of CNG and petrol and would soon come out similar variants of Aveo.
They are close to finalizing details for the proposed power train manufacturing unit in India and would soon announce details of the venture.
Tata Motors launches new variants of Sumo, Indigo
Giving a fillip to its passenger car segment, Tata Motors launched new variants of multi-utility vehicle Sumo and sedan Indigo. The new version of the MUV - Sumo Grande - has been priced between Rs6.55 and 7.49 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi). However, the company is yet to announce the price for Indigo CS.
“With the new Sumo Grande we are expecting about 30% increase in sales of the Sumo family,” Rajiv Dube MD, Tata Motors informed.
The company has been trying to bring in the contemporary aspect in styling and technology by infusing new features. Currently, Tata Motors sells 2,200 -2,500 units of Sumo a month on an average. “The vehicle will be available in the market next month,” he added.
The new Indigo CS, which it dubbed as the first “sub-4 metre Sedan” of the world, would have two engine variants 1.2 litres petrol and 1.4 litres diesel. “With the new Indigo CS, the company is looking at a substantial increase in the sales of the Indigo series,” Dube said. Currently, the company sells 2,400 units of Indigo a month.
Volvo previews C70
Volvo Car Corporation showcased its new sedan C70 which will be launched in the Indian market soon.
“India is one of the very exciting luxury car markets and this is the right time for us to expand in the country. The new C70 is not yet available in India but it might find its way to the country soon,” Volvo Car India MD Paul de Voijs said.
Volvo C70 is the second generation convertible of C70 from the company, with a three-piece retractable hard-top that transforms the vehicle from coupe to convertible at the touch of a button. The company, which already offers S80 as XC90, plans to expand its dealership network across India in the current year and is targeting sales of over 500 cars.