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Old 1st March 2012, 14:10   #1
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Default Do car makers in India lack courage? Where are the *true* Hot Hatches?

On a recent Top Gear Episode, James May reviewed the corsa.Powered by a 1.6 liter turbo Petrol, pumping a healthy 202bhp.

He did not like it, and maybe that Nurburing thing made it impractical, but I could not help lamenting about the sorry state of sub 10 lakh space in India.

Look at Tata. They have prototype 150bhp engines, ready to go into Indica chassis.

Hyundai sure has some nice 2 liter 200bhp engines.

Ditto for Maruti. How difficult will it be for them to have a 1.5 liter 160-170bhp engine.

But what do we have here for a Hot hatch?
I know a lot will say, Fiat Palio was a hot hatch.

And I just feel like laughing . 100bhp/ton is a nice P/W ratio for a minivan for a soccer mom, but a hot hatch... Nah.

The fact is, that India never got a hot hatch. BMW mini may be one, but at 25L+ its out of reach for most.

The potential and talent exists with Tata, Hyundai, Nissan, Maruti..... and countless others. But nobody dares to make a hatch just because it can be made.

The Art of Automobile engineering is forgotten, atleast in India, and they keep churning out mundane clones.

So is it lack of courage. Or simple lack of imagination. Or is it the obsession with the bottom line, due to which creativity and foolhardiness are sacrificed at the alter of fuel efficiency?

What say? Isn't it time we had a sub 7L hatch with a 150bhp turbo petrol engine?
Will somebody ever make such a car?

Last edited by tsk1979 : 1st March 2012 at 14:18.
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Old 1st March 2012, 14:18   #2
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Default Re: Do car makers in India lack courage.. or its just lack of Imagination?

Interesting thought TSK, but we all know the answer. No company has any plans of launching a 150 bhp turbo petrol sub 7L hatch in india in the near future. They simply do not think there's enough of a market for this segment here. In a market, where the bulk of users are looking for a frugal daily commuter, they feel, and perhaps rightly so, that the market for performance rides is too small to tap. And for the enthusiasts, well, one can always go for performance mods.

Another issue is the price, at Sub 7L, it won't even be worth the effort for them.
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Old 1st March 2012, 14:20   #3
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Default Re: Do car makers in India lack courage.. or its just lack of Imagination?

Yes. Its all about the market. No car maker would sit quietly if there is a market for any type of model. To bring down the price would mean to dilute the character of such cars.

But I guess for a made completely in India car, it should be possible.
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Old 1st March 2012, 14:31   #4
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Default Re: Do car makers in India lack courage.. or its just lack of Imagination?

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
What say? Isn't it time we had a sub 7L hatch with a 150bhp turbo petrol engine?
Will somebody ever make such a car?
Tanveer, IMO, as of now and in the near future: NO. Reason: Lack of courage.

<10L segment is very sensitive and you cannot really play around just with emotions/passion. Moreover, its a volume market, and one wrong move by a manufacturer, would make them end up with a really bad image. At this point of time, you wouldn't want to carry a "low FE cars" tag.

Also, a hot hatch is not practical, and <10L segment is all about practicality.

Maybe, at a point of time, when <10L cars are not only the only and primary cars in Indian families, but the 2nd or 3rd car, hot hatches might seep through.

EDIT: Maybe, in a year or so, when the Figo has enough good name for itself, I'd like Ford to launch it with the EcoBoost engine.

Last edited by dhanushs : 1st March 2012 at 14:35.
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Old 1st March 2012, 14:48   #5
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Default Re: Do car makers in India lack courage.. or its just lack of Imagination?

Show me the market we will invest, is a simple answer that any marketing/product lead would say. If a 100bhp/ton sells only a few hundered a month whats the point in a 150 or even a 200. The difference between courage and foolishness is just a thin line. After all investors/stakeholders would want to see "ROI". Thats why I guess the list of manufacturers you put out come to every auto show and say we can, but not now.

Secondly where is the infra ? A nation that shy's away from FDI in retail or any other form of reforms isn't going to get a lot further from where we are now. 7 to 10 years from now we might think in these lines.
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Old 1st March 2012, 15:09   #6
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Default Re: Do car makers in India lack courage.. or its just lack of Imagination?

Well this is something that I have been wondering about for long. Here's what my thought process was.


Do we have the talent? YES

Do we have a market? A decade back, maybe no. But today? With rising disposable incomes, global car makers making a bee line in to India and car ownership made so easy (a'la car loans at mouthwatering rates, negligible downpayments), I would say a BIG YES. Run a poll on this forum today asking if people would buy a 150+ BHP hot hatch if it were available for 7lacs, and I am sure the scales would tilt toward a YES. But then, the very reason why we are on this forum is the reason we would say yes. We are all crazy petrol heads. But what outside of our forum?

The car buying process for many of us in India is a collective affair. All relevant stakeholders (dad, mom, the wife, the husband, the kids) need to be in agreement with the choice we make. Does it look good? Can it seat us all in comfort? What social status does this car hold? And Finally - kitna deti hain. Or otherwise read as - what mileage? And this forms the basic premise of why hot hatches are virtually non existent in India.

No matter how fast our automobile market evolves, fuel economy will be one of the top most drivers of decision making in our market. While there are real enthusiasts for whom performance is over everything else, but how many? And is it justifiable for a car maker to launch a separate product line only to serve this set of customers? And what if it doesn't work? Will it affect the other products I have in the market?

At the end of the day, outside of this forum, or for that matter any other car forum and save for the enthusiasts, there exists a world where the car is looked upon as an object to take you from A to B in the cheapest possible way. If not, all the world woud be driving around in 150+ BHP hot hatches.

Last edited by iceman7 : 1st March 2012 at 15:19.
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Old 1st March 2012, 15:12   #7
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Default Re: Do car makers in India lack courage.. or its just lack of Imagination?

The answer is within your post TSK, there are hot hatches available at a premium price but you want them to reach the aam aadmi, what does an aam aadmi do with his car normally? Daily office, few weekend trips with family or friends, droping or picking some one from Airport/Station and life goes on and then if the car has to be sub 7L then its about milage too? Kitna Deti hai will be the first word an aam aadmi will think of, and then roads, where are the roads in India? Other than 2/3 dedicated expressways, hardly any road where you can keep constant 3 figure speed for a long time, what will you do with 150bhps or 200 bhps in a hot hatch?

Its not lack of courage but market dynamics that is keeping companies away from bringing large fuel burners. Let them bring few 100 bhp turbo petrol engines and see the response, there will be always a next time to upgrade the engine.
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Old 1st March 2012, 15:12   #8
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Default Re: Do car makers in India lack courage.. or its just lack of Imagination?

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Originally Posted by dhanushs View Post

EDIT: Maybe, in a year or so, when the Figo has enough good name for itself, I'd like Ford to launch it with the EcoBoost engine.
Yeah, and then we'll have Figos going at 180 kph with parts flying off it
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Old 1st March 2012, 15:18   #9
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Default Re: Do car makers in India lack courage.. or its just lack of Imagination?

Speaking of market, less than 1% of people buy a 4x4 Safari or Scorpio. Yet they are made. So why not have a version of indica with a 150bhp engine. Maybe it will sell 50 units a month, but its a great way to showcase your engineering prowess!
Or imagine a 150bhp swift. Again selling just 50 units a month.
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Old 1st March 2012, 15:20   #10
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Default Re: Do car makers in India lack courage.. or its just lack of Imagination?

The reason why you can't plonk a 150 BHP engine on to a hatch and still price it well is because -

- Low sales volume for the 150 BHP engine will result in higher costs for the engine.
- You need to upgrade the brakes too. Adds to the cost.
- You need to upgrade the tyres to wider ones. Adds to the cost.
- The suspension will need an upgrade. Adds to the cost.
- Need to perhaps give a sporty look to the interior/exterior of the car. Adds to the cost.
- Consultancy fees to Lotus or some other company to fine tune the chassis. Adds to the development cost.

If VW Polo - which costs Rs. 7 Lacs - is the donor car, it will cost upwards of Rs. 10 Lacs for the hot version. And once the on road price starts going upwards, customers naturally expect features like leather seats, electric mirrors, climate control etc - further adding to the costs.
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Old 1st March 2012, 15:20   #11
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Default Re: Do car makers in India lack courage.. or its just lack of Imagination?

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
So is it lack of courage. Or simple lack of imagination. Or is it the obsession with the bottom line, due to which creativity and foolhardiness are sacrificed at the alter of fuel efficiency?
I think it requires a lot of courage and imagination to survive a sub-10 lakh market that's as tough as ours. And I bet it's the bottom line that drives them abroad as well - the market over there demands powerful cars, whereas in here the parameters are different. Bottom line apart, do we have the roads for such powerful cars, say if their numbers were to match that of the Swift in a city. After all, of what use are those 150 horses if they have no place to run.
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Old 1st March 2012, 15:25   #12
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Default Re: Do car makers in India lack courage.. or its just lack of Imagination?

tsk1979 awesome thread and man I only Hope/Wish/Beg/Plead for any Auto Manufacturer to read this or atleast give it a thought !!


Now, as many have already answered the possible reason that we Indians don't have such a hot hatch I was thinking how difficult or doable would it be for an established manufacturer like Tata, Maruti or Hyundai to :
  • Offer a 1.4ltr (130 BHP) TC Petrol engine as a Sports Variant on a hatch like Indica/Swift/I20 along with the existing ones ?
  • May be offer a BOA(Built On Order) facility of such variants just to ensure we Petro heads are also satisfied.
  • Probably the toughest but offer an "Add On BHP" package of some sorts only for enthusiasts, which also offers OEM warranty. This might not only get New customers but also bring back the old ones.
Just thinking loud guys and I have not even considered the golden rule of all the Manufacturers here "Cost Cutting".
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Old 1st March 2012, 15:43   #13
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Default Re: Do car makers in India lack courage.. or its just lack of Imagination?

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Speaking of market, less than 1% of people buy a 4x4 Safari or Scorpio. Yet they are made. So why not have a version of indica with a 150bhp engine. Maybe it will sell 50 units a month, but its a great way to showcase your engineering prowess!
Or imagine a 150bhp swift. Again selling just 50 units a month.
Because Safari & Scorpio are a lot more practical than a hot hatch. But you knew that. A real hot hatch with all the necessary upgrades (engine, brakes, chassis, gear box?) will cost about twice of the base car. I am assuming it has to be a petrol just because they sound awesome. Now, in India, somebody who already has a "gaadi/bunglaa" and still had 10L to dispose will probably look at buying a bigger "gaadi/bunglaa" which has some snob value rather than buy run of the mill hot hatch.

If I only have about 80K to dispose, I will probably go and book a seat with the AMG driving academy rather than add modifications to my car. My reason - former would be waaaay more fun than the latter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vik0728 View Post
tsk1979 awesome thread and man I only Hope/Wish/Beg/Plead for any Auto Manufacturer to read this or atleast give it a thought !!


Now, as many have already answered the possible reason that we Indians don't have such a hot hatch I was thinking how difficult or doable would it be for an established manufacturer like Tata, Maruti or Hyundai to :[list][*]Offer a 1.4ltr (130 BHP) TC Petrol engine as a Sports Variant on a hatch like Indica/Swift/I20 along with the existing ones ?[*]May be offer a BOA(Built On Order) facility of such variants just to ensure we Petro heads are also satisfied.
For all the above, I think there's a big cost the manufacturer's have to foot - cost of homogolation. More on that here http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/indian...ologation.html (What is Homologation?).

I am not sure if manufacturers are willing to add more headache for the few out there especially when it doesn't add to their business.
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Old 1st March 2012, 16:06   #14
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Default Re: Do car makers in India lack courage? Where are the *true* Hot Hatches?

@Tanveer To take your example further, The cheapest variant of the Vauxhall Corsa 5 Door version in the UK sells for 12,050 GBP.

The 1.6 VXR Nurburgring 3dr sells for 22,295 GBP.

Now for comparison, The cheapest variant of the Honda Accord (154bhp 2.0 i-VTEC ES 4dr) Sells for 21,705 GBP.

The question is, Would the enthusiast buy a Hot hatch for more than the price of a Honda Accord? Especially if the Hot Hatch will be the 'Only Car' of the household?
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Old 1st March 2012, 16:14   #15
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Default Re: Do car makers in India lack courage? Where are the *true* Hot Hatches?

Its been always like that, we need someone to show us a new way for doing the same thing and then everyone follows. Case in point all four power windows (None of the cars <5L had it in 2001), until Indica came with all four power windows. Ditto, none had 100BHP until Palio came with GTX, and since then there are many (Many actually thought our roads do not need 100BHP, and were busy selling 55BHP engines e.g. Maruti).

Slowly the time will come when someone will launch it and take the first movers advantage and then the rest will follow. The current mindset is I don't think we need it as we do not have roads for it.

Someone will come and can just change it in a flash.
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