Mint Explainer: Is the launch of MG’s Comet a turning point for two-door cars?

MG is targeting sales of 3,000 units a month for the Comet
MG is targeting sales of 3,000 units a month for the Comet

Summary

  • The success or failure of MG’s new EV will reveal if India finally ready for practical, affordable city cars with two doors and zero frills

Outside the extreme top end, two-door cars don’t have many takers in India. At least that’s what traditional wisdom says. The highly practical, no-nonsense Indian buyer wants maximum bang for his/her buck — a big engine, large boot, loud music system and as many bells and whistles as possible. Four-door cars are a given and getting rid of two would be anathema. Right?

Well, surveys have found that the rear seat and the boot are seldom used – more than 70% of the time, there are only two people travelling in a car in India.

It is in this context that Morris Garage launched its first micro car, the Comet, in the country. At just about three metres long, it is by some distance the smallest car in India. It has only two doors and no boot, but its tall design offers decent space with adequate headroom even in the rear seat. Oh, and it’s electric.

At 7.98 lakh, the Comet undercuts Tata’s Tiago EV by 71,000, though it has two fewer doors and smaller battery. But as an EV built from scratch – unlike the Tiago, which adopted the design of its internal combustion engine (ICE) cousin – the Comet has a few more things going for it. It has more tech, a better layout, and a better fit and finish than the Tiago. But that’s not where the game will be won or lost. All will depend on whether the urban Indian consumer is ready for a quirky-looking two-door car for his daily commute.

This isn’t the first practical two-door car to be launched in India. There was the Standard Herald in the 1970s, the San Storm in the mid 1990s, limited-edition two-door versions of the Maruti Zen (named Carbon and Steel), and the imported VW Polo GTi. In fact, India’s first electric car — Reva – was a tiny two-door affair. But none of these set sales records – far from it.

But in the EV age, the micro-car may find more takers for a variety of reasons. They are lighter, built predominantly for city use, which means shorter trips, and can thus do with a smaller battery pack. Considering the battery accounts for 40% of the cost of the typical EV, this could prove decisive. The Comet has a 17.3 kwh battery, which is good enough for 200 km on full charge. It is clearly not for weekend getaways or meant to be the primary car for a family.

There will be more such experiments in future, some even quirkier than this. The era of micro mobility throws up the prospect of niche vehicles for specific uses, such as two-seater taxis or even three-wheelers for last-mile connectivity.

A lot hinges on how the Comet fares. MG is targeting sales of 3,000 units a month. As a two-door car, it can draw confidence from the success of the Mahindra Thar, which showed that the Indian customer may be starting to look beyond traditional formats if given the right design.

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
more

topics

MINT SPECIALS