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Old 15th June 2011, 13:00   #1
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Default The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

Dare I say that the most dynamic automobile manufacturer company in India, in terms of responding to customer feedback could be the Volkswagen?

Please keep in mind that VW Group is completing 10 years in India for its Skoda brand, but Volkswagen brand (Audi as well) has entered in India in 2007 only. Thats just less than 4 years when someone put that first brick for VW India (Chakan) Plant!
The plant was inaugurated in March 2009 and started pre-series production of Polo in April 2009. Thats just close to +2 years as of today!

Below are few points that I noticed in my short journey so far,

1. December, 2009 Polo was launched without electronic ORVM, lot of people complained about it. Polo the hot-hatch comes with manually adjustable rear-view mirrors, sigh! - Done
Ans. Polo now comes with EORVM

2. Polo came with only 1.2L 3-pot Petrol engine, some enthusiasts dreamt it to have a Big Heart. - Done
Ans. The 1.6L 4-pot engine is there only as HL

3. Vento 1.6 Petrol attracting bit less customers, specially in India Petrol prices $%#$^ Okay, I don't want to tell it again and again! So why don't they put bit smaller engine to cut the initial cost as well the reason a proud owner could also happily answer for "kitna deti hey?" - Doing
Ans. A fellow t-bhpina caught 1.4Vento undergoing test at Lavasa. (SCOOP PICS : New VW Jetta, Vento 1.4 petrol, and a Yeti spotted testing)

4. We have enough hue and cry for Polo/Vento lacking steering mounted controls and Bluetooth connectivity, if Swift/i20 have it why not Polo? - Doing
Ans. Enough scoops (Polo with new bluetooth stereo...) to support that such variants are already under test.

5. Agree, VW cares for Petroheads, what about Oilburner enthusiasts with limited budget? - just chill, bhondu!
Ans. The news has been rounding off that Polo 1.5 TDI is on card as scooped by MotorBeam.

Well, this is all I could sum-up from my -ON and -OFF Team-BHP readings. I'm sure there will be much more changes happening all the times that goes inside than what we could see externally through scoops.
Read somewhere, "Take care of your customers, they will take care of your business". If they continue to listen to customers like this, I don't see any hurdles in grabbing that 20% stake of market share by 2018.

Now, the question is "Is there any other Car Manufacturers, who is as much eager to understand customer requirements and implement it too?"

Disclaimer: I'm not a fanboy of VW Group, but changes/updates happening across all variants inspired me to write this post;
and yeah VW makes awesome cars, reasonably priced!

Last edited by iSpoke : 15th June 2011 at 13:03. Reason: link edited
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Old 15th June 2011, 13:11   #2
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Default Re: The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by iSpoke View Post
"Is there any other Car Manufacturers, who is as much eager to understand customer requirements and implement it too?"

Yes, FORD!.

Why do you think the Ford Fiesta 1.6 S had been launched? By the looks of it, even Figo might get the 'S' badging soon.

Considering the wafer thin market for the Fiesta 'S', making it a TRUE drivers car and pricing it decently, comes only from a manufacturer who completely understands an enthusiast.
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Old 15th June 2011, 13:33   #3
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Default Re: The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

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Originally Posted by dhanushs View Post
Yes, FORD!.

Why do you think the Ford Fiesta 1.6 S had been launched? By the looks of it, even Figo might get the 'S' badging soon.
I agree with you by 90% but another 10% could not!.

Some reasons:
1.Figo having manual rear windows. That was a big blooper.

2. Fiesta (now Classic) never came with ACC and a front center arm-rest. I would have blindly bought the car had it come with these two features.

Now coming to the agreeing part.

Ford has got their pricing strategy correct. Figo pricing was a bang for the buck. Fiesta Classic is now very well positioned.

Ford cars are very driver centric, comfortable, durable and low maintenance.

Ford has slowly build a reputation of being a no-nonsense and reliable manufacturer. We say Japs are not what they used to be, European reliability has question marks. But to think of it, noises about Ford are on the wane these days. A good thing. Their A.S.S. has improved, parts cost has come down. Still a lot of bureaucracy exists at A.S.S, but they are better than some others in my experience.

I am hoping that new Fiesta will be a big success for Ford.

Last edited by dot : 15th June 2011 at 13:49.
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Old 15th June 2011, 13:40   #4
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Default Re: The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

Take this as a compliment coming from a critic of the Company. For me its Hyundai. Whatever the company has done in past decade is enough to keep likes of Honda, Toyota, other manufacturers including Germans (especially VW), thinking. IMHO, its the most customer centric OEM despite the fact that most of the cars it sells doesnt appeal to enthusiast but they certainly do to the the company's large customer base . No Wonder, the company now stands at no 5 position in global scenario.

Last edited by gaurav_chopra04 : 15th June 2011 at 13:46.
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Old 15th June 2011, 14:33   #5
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Default Re: The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

Definitely Ford and Fiat in my view!
Ford
*Fiesta face lift came with a new 'default' driver's car for the segment the Fiesta S!
*The pain taken and the investment they made for overhauling the suspension specifically for the S version, despite knowing it would not set the sales charts on fire deserves an applause
*The market study they had done before pricing the Figo is still being appreciated.
*The introduction of Child Spares to reduce ownership costs.
FIAT
Punto owners felt the need for more power, they came up with the 90 bhp version.
Punto has bare bones version to the fully loaded version, fitting everybody's pockets and needs.
Linea felt underpowered for the segment, they came up with the first turbo charged T-Jet for the enthusiasts.
Interior quality was upgraded with the T-Jet too.
Now Punto set to get a makeover too, to get the Interior quality to meet customer's expectations.
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Old 15th June 2011, 14:33   #6
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Default Re: The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by iSpoke View Post
Disclaimer: I'm not a fanboy of VW Group, but changes/updates happening across all variants inspired me to write this post;
and yeah VW makes awesome cars, reasonably priced!
I am sorry mate, but your disclaimer looks contradictory. First you say you are not a fanboy of VW Group and then you say they are reasonably priced! Whats cooking!?

The New Hyundai Verna Fluidic offers a lot more than what the VW cars can think of!

Quote:
1. December, 2009 Polo was launched without electronic ORVM, lot of people complained about it. Polo the hot-hatch comes with manually adjustable rear-view mirrors, sigh! - Done
Ans. Polo now comes with EORVM

2. Polo came with only 1.2L 3-pot Petrol engine, some enthusiasts dreamt it to have a Big Heart. - Done
Ans. The 1.6L 4-pot engine is there only as HL

3. Vento 1.6 Petrol attracting bit less customers, specially in India Petrol prices $%#$^ Okay, I don't want to tell it again and again! So why don't they put bit smaller engine to cut the initial cost as well the reason a proud owner could also happily answer for "kitna deti hey?" - Doing
Ans. A fellow t-bhpina caught 1.4Vento undergoing test at Lavasa. (SCOOP PICS : New VW Jetta, Vento 1.4 petrol, and a Yeti spotted testing)

4. We have enough hue and cry for Polo/Vento lacking steering mounted controls and Bluetooth connectivity, if Swift/i20 have it why not Polo? - Doing
Ans. Enough scoops (Polo with new bluetooth stereo...) to support that such variants are already under test.

5. Agree, VW cares for Petroheads, what about Oilburner enthusiasts with limited budget? - just chill, bhondu!
Ans. The news has been rounding off that Polo 1.5 TDI is on card as scooped by MotorBeam.
If they had offered all this when they launched they cannot exponentially increase the price of their products there by increasing their margins. Its more of a strategy than making it look like listening to customers.

If you still think that VW listens to customers, wish for realistic maintenance costs & parts cost! That might really help!

I would still go with Hyundai/Ford as cars that really take feedback from customers when they work on their products. I vaguely remember a team of selected customers of Ford were called in by Ford while they were developing the Figo to understand their requirements. For the same reason, the Figo came out as a good VFM car. Lack of power windows in the rear is the only thing anyone could possibly crib about in the Figo if they really want to.
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Old 15th June 2011, 14:45   #7
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Default Re: The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gaurav_chopra04 View Post
Take this as a compliment coming from a critic of the Company. For me its Hyundai. Whatever the company has done in past decade is enough to keep likes of Honda, Toyota, other manufacturers including Germans (especially VW), thinking. IMHO, its the most customer centric OEM despite the fact that most of the cars it sells doesnt appeal to enthusiast but they certainly do to the the company's large customer base . No Wonder, the company now stands at no 5 position in global scenario.
I would have agreed with Hyundai if only they managed to do something responsible about that irritating steering rattle on some of their i20s.
Their response to the issue is nothing short of shameful (or is it shameless?!)
Agreed they are doing great business, but IMHO that doesnt mean they are customer centric.

Recently Ford seems to be saying the correct words and doing the right thing.
What about Maruti realising what a diesel mill means to Indians?
Also GM seems to be going down a good road with their rumoured Chevy Beat diesel
Tata also seem to be benefitting a lot from their association with Fiat. The newer lot of cars are really good. Their SAs may still be pathetic, but the *** experiences are much better.
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Old 15th June 2011, 15:48   #8
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Default Re: The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhanushs View Post
Yes, FORD!.
Yep, I expected the FORD specially after Figo launch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dot View Post
I agree with you by 90% but another 10% could not!.

Some reasons:
1.Figo having manual rear windows. That was a big blooper.

2. Fiesta (now Classic) never came with ACC and a front center arm-rest. I would have blindly bought the car had it come with these two features.

Their A.S.S. has improved, parts cost has come down.
I am hoping that new Fiesta will be a big success for Ford.
I haven't studied the car market before Fiesta was launched and nor aware what it lacked then but post Figo I wonder why Ford has turned deaf ears [any clues Mustang.101?] to almost all ZXI Titanium customers. At least it should have been there in Titanium variants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gaurav_chopra04 View Post
Take this as a compliment coming from a critic of the Company. For me its Hyundai.
IMHO, its the most customer centric OEM despite the fact that most of the cars it sells doesnt appeal to enthusiast but they certainly do to the the company's large customer base . No Wonder, the company now stands at no 5 position in global scenario.
Don't know but I will go with the general perception that a Hyundai car ticks all the boxes right (you too said the same with claps!) but they are costly.
(Petrol Engines) Ex-Showroom Prices, Delhi:
Model-->>Entry-Middle-Top
i20-->>Era4.58-Magna4.98-Sportz5.3-Asta5.83 (6.35 w/ AVN)
Polo->>TL4.57-CL5.08-HL6.04

Quote:
Originally Posted by aravind.anand View Post
Definitely Ford and Fiat in my view!
FIAT
Punto owners felt the need for more power, they came up with the 90 bhp version.
Punto has bare bones version to the fully loaded version, fitting everybody's pockets and needs.
Linea felt underpowered for the segment, they came up with the first turbo charged T-Jet for the enthusiasts.
Interior quality was upgraded with the T-Jet too.
Now Punto set to get a makeover too, to get the Interior quality to meet customer's expectations.
Agree for Ford.

Considering FIAT India a 14+ year old company and backed by FIAT SPA, they would have done much better by this time. "A readily available costly part is way better than waiting months for same costly part!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronix View Post
I am sorry mate, but your disclaimer looks contradictory. First you say you are not a fanboy of VW Group and then you say they are reasonably priced! Whats cooking!?

Nothing buddy, that was just to clear that I'm not, but at the same time its a fact that they make good cars. They aren't cheaper - just reasonable for what they are.

The New Hyundai Verna Fluidic offers a lot more than what the VW cars can think of!

oh, really? do they think! kidding

If they had offered all this when they launched they cannot exponentially increase the price of their products there by increasing their margins. Its more of a strategy than making it look like listening to customers.

well, you have a point here. But I (assuming a potential VW customer) would have got bored of following a VW thread on Team-BHP till today that Polo is going to be launch in 2009. We have enough examples Safari Merlin/Force SUV/M&M World SUV

If you still think that VW listens to customers, wish for realistic maintenance costs & parts cost! That might really help!

I would still go with Hyundai/Ford as cars that really take feedback from customers when they work on their products. I vaguely remember a team of selected customers of Ford were called in by Ford while they were developing the Figo to understand their requirements. For the same reason, the Figo came out as a good VFM car. Lack of power windows in the rear is the only thing anyone could possibly crib about in the Figo if they really want to.
Have heard recent instances of FIAT taking customer feedback by directly calling from Italy. Good move, though too late.

Again I would happily accept Ford as true customer-centric manufacturer. In that context Figo is really a Sandip-Centric car!

Last edited by iSpoke : 15th June 2011 at 15:51. Reason: correction
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Old 15th June 2011, 15:54   #9
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Default Re: The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by iSpoke View Post
"A readily available costly part is way better than waiting months for same costly part!"
VW has really changed the way their customers look at their strategy. All the Best!

Quote:
well, you have a point here. But I (assuming a potential VW customer) would have got bored of following a VW thread on Team-BHP till today that Polo is going to be launch in 2009. We have enough examples Safari Merlin/Force SUV/M&M World SUV
Dint quite understand it mate! If you can explain it better.
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Old 15th June 2011, 16:02   #10
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Default Re: The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

ispoke, there are two things here, being proactive and reactive. From what you have posted I feel that VW has been quick to react (infact aggresive is the word) to the needs of the market. Which is a good thing when compared to say, Honda.

However I would not yet call them proactive or label them the most customer-centric manufacturer in India.
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Old 15th June 2011, 16:13   #11
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Default Re: The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

Two names I can think of immediately are Ford and BMW.

Ford has played well with its strengths and the way they have transformed in the past year or so, is quite wonderful. Now there maybe some disappointment around the downsizing of engines in the new Fiesta. For me it’s another masterstroke to fulfill the VFM requirements of an average Indian customer.

BMW, because they always bring in the latest models to India. For me that’s a highly customer-centric approach.
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Old 15th June 2011, 16:23   #12
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Smile Re: The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

I think Ford to a certain extent. Well they priced the Figo well but was that customer centric one, I doubt so. Figo was brought it to cater to the mass market which Ford was missing. Ikon was the big seller for Ford even though it had Fiesta at that time but was it given a customer centric approach, I dont think so. Again pricing the Classic was a way to accomodate the new NFS. Had they dropped the price before the NFS was announced then it would have been appreciable.

Customer centric manufacturers IMO are those who built the models (existing or new) based on the customer's demand or needs. I can say Thar from M&M was one such initiative.
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Old 15th June 2011, 16:44   #13
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Default Re: The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronix View Post
VW has really changed the way their customers look at their strategy. All the Best!

Quote:
well, you have a point here. But I (assuming a potential VW customer) would have got bored of following a VW thread on Team-BHP till today that Polo is going to be launch in 2009. We have enough examples Safari Merlin/Force SUV/M&M World SUV
Dint quite understand it mate! If you can explain it better.
It wasn't a perception, please read it in context of FIAT. Heard many Fiat customers complaining of unavailability of parts even after waiting for months.

In an attempt to launch that perfect SUV without any (read acceptable) "niggles" its taking generations. Take example of this thread New Mahindra SUV for 2011. Thread started on Feb 2009 with the picture of a road testing vehicle prototype, its been more than two years. Remember, in the original post I mentioned that VW Pune plant was inaugurated in Mar 2009?

Of course illogical, just portrayed it on VW. If VW would have been trying to provid all the features (added later like EORVM, some upcoming scooped features like steering mounted controls, and some would get added by the time of its launch!), we would be just expecting the launch of that perfect hatch, may be even today also!
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Old 15th June 2011, 16:52   #14
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Default Re: The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

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Originally Posted by ghodlur View Post
Customer centric manufacturers IMO are those who built the models (existing or new) based on the customer's demand or needs. I can say Thar from M&M was one such initiative.
Based on your logic/ reasoning I would also add the Xylo CS version (whatever it may be called). There is a nascent demand for smaller/ mini SUVs that offer the GC, extra legroom & headroom, better driving stance etc. but are not as expensive as the current full fledged SUVs. All people dont want to pay 10L+ for say rain sensors or 4x4. I for one would be perfecty happy to have a mini SUV that offers the space & ABS/ airbags.

This segment is untapped, in fact non existent in India. Creating a segment where it does not exist may turn out to be customer centric only for that segment, at least in this case. So going by your logic, M&M would be a good shout.

If we try to extend this logic though, will Skoda be called customer centric
for the Fabia/ luxury hatchback segment? It could have been pioneered by someone else in India, so please correct me if I am off the mark!
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Old 15th June 2011, 17:23   #15
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Default Re: The most Customer-centric car manufacturers in India?

I'd say Toyota, Ford, GM, and Maruti.

Toyota, cos they were smart to spot the potential for the Fortuner, and what a grand success thats been. Their cars are amazingly well built and they've been offering a splendid choice of engines. I know the Etios has taken a lot of flak and correctly so for the quality of plastics, and interiors, but its serving its stated purpose pretty well.

Ford - Simply because of the brilliant pricing on the Figo, the all new Fiesta, which is a stunner, and cos they've conciously worked at addressing the high cost of spares.

GM - Cruze was an amazing pathbreaker in its segment, and the sheer choice of small cars in its range, Spark, Beat, UVA, etc... is mindblowing. And their build quality and overall ownership costs are good too.

Maruti - Cos they have the widest range, and the largest market share, but they dont really let that go to their head. File a complaint, and see them move like crazy in order to placate and keep their customer loyal. One major sore point though is the increasingly negative image v/s the competition. It just does not seem like a premium brand, even though its got great products otherwise. Hope they address that flaw with some premium range products. They sure seem to be trying with the new Kizashi etc... but we just dont see that selling, and part of the problem is the same image problem that I spoke about earlier.

Now VW - Well, great looking cars, but very bad customer service. Tried booking a Vento with them, and apart from the crazy waiting period, found that the dealers did'nt have a clue abt the expected delivery dates, and they kept blaming the factory for the issues. Kinda easy to believe cos the same issues were being reported by dealers actoss the country. Also, heard so many horror stories of the Skoda (their sister concern) that I would be scared to touch VW with a barge pole.
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