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Old 13th July 2013, 14:53   #1
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Default Diesel + Automatic Hatchback: Who wants to create the segment?

A diesel hatchback or even compact sedans with a reasonable auto tranny - why are Indian auto manufacturers not yet into this area? This keep me thinking whenever I am in city with a huge row of crawling vehicles in front of me.

I, for one, am not comfortable with the running costs of petrol autos and the choice even there is not too good. A small diesel in the 6-9 Lakh space would make perfect sense, to be my city runabout car. It would be appealing even for people who own a single vehicle, if their running is mostly within cities. (For us in Kerala, even highways now resemble city streets with long row of vehicles waiting their turn to jump into monsoon special potholes )

To me, this is a huge market in India, yet to be tapped. Of course, the cost of developing such a drive train especially for India would involve big costs. Yet, the potential benefits for early movers could not be insignificant.

We have seen this before - companies who pioneered new segments doing disproportionally well. No body takes a segment seriously and somebody ventures with a reasonable vehicle and makes a killing. Some examples could be
  • Duster - the recent one, fresh in our minds. Why didn't anybody enter or even think of that segment earlier (yes, of course except Ford, though a little late to execute)
  • Ertiga in the smallish UV space
  • Innova in the premium UV segment (Still no strong competition)
  • Tata Ace in the four wheeler LCV space
  • Even Indica those days in the small diesels segment
  • In gearless scooters, Honda's Activa
Maybe the market for the last decade was too good that companies needn't take these kind of risks. Now, the monthly Team BHP stats clearly shows the market is shrinking. Only players who caters to new segments successfully grows. Also, lack of diesel capacity, the perennial problem for the last few years seems to be turning into diesel capacity glut today.



Team BHP - ians, give your views.


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Old 13th July 2013, 15:08   #2
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Default re: Diesel + Automatic Hatchback: Who wants to create the segment?

One reason why manufacturers shy away from auto trannies in diesel hatchbacks and entry level sedans is that it pushes up the costs and therefore pricing it right would become an issue.

Some manufacturers look at an auto version as a token product in their portfolio and as such outdated 4-speed autos simply do not cut it in the market. But I do believe there is an urban segment waiting to be tapped here. Small displacement blown petrols are gradually becoming the norm, likewise maybe all it would take is for 1 manufacturer to test the waters to open up a whole new sub-segment.
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Old 13th July 2013, 15:43   #3
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Default re: Diesel + Automatic Hatchback: Who wants to create the segment?

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One reason why manufacturers shy away from auto trannies in diesel hatchbacks and entry level sedans is that it pushes up the costs and therefore pricing it right would become an issue.
Sorry but I disagree. An AT box will cost additional 70-80k. Unless they get greedy and add 1-1.5L to price, a 70-80K additional expense for convenience of AT would not be unwelcome. I'm sure it would be lapped up by the market , judging by the increasing number of AT buyers who are reluctantly buying even petrol ATs, in the absence of a diesel AT hatch.

How did manufacturers come to conclusion that there is no market for diesel AT hatch? Did they make an effort to find out? First, let them give it a shot. Swift or Ecosport became superhit cars AFTER they were launched. But before their launch, people did not take out processions demanding launch of Swift or Ecosport. Similarly, if manufacturers expext people to take to streets staging rasta rokos demanding AT diesel hatches, then they are wrong. But if the manufacturers launch one, it would sell like hot cakes, if increasing no. of sale of petrol hatches is any indication.

And personally, I feel AT is a must on most diesel cars because of their hard clutch.
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Old 13th July 2013, 15:59   #4
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Default re: Diesel + Automatic Hatchback: Who wants to create the segment?

Hi,

Nissan contemplating on a Micra diesel A/T, Hyundai will follow them, Maruti will follow Hyundai, etc....

A/T in the MUV space is an absolute waste. 90% of the MUV buyers will have chauffeurs to drive them around. Why an A/T? Except for the Nissan CVT, Ford and Volkswagen's DSG's, rest all A/T's are very less fuel efficient. Even in diesel guise, they will guzzle the fuel. They are like silent killers.


Mini SUV's: A practical space in the market to launch an A/T in diesel guise. Mini SUV's will primarily be self driven so it's a sensible option. Renault has the Nissan CVT. Ford has the PowerShift DSG.

Sedans: Good for < 4 M cars and for not so spacious cars like Rapid, Vento, Fiesta ( New ). Will be useful ( Not so much ) in cars like Sunny, Manza, Scala, Verito, Etios.

Hatches: Simply put, the breadwinners for manufacturers.

Cheers,

Achyuth
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Old 13th July 2013, 16:08   #5
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Default re: Diesel + Automatic Hatchback: Who wants to create the segment?

A/T is the way to go. Outside of India, where the taxation on fuel is slightly lower, A/T are the dominant mechanisms. Perhaps, we need one brave manufacturer to mass produce these in India and bring down the costs a bit.
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Old 13th July 2013, 16:19   #6
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Default re: Diesel + Automatic Hatchback: Who wants to create the segment?

As far as I know, the VGT/FGT in the diesels are causing manufacturers trouble in creating an auto transmission. The 1.3 fiat engine has never been mated to an auto transmission.

If you want an automatic diesel , verna may have one at about 12 Lacks.
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Old 13th July 2013, 16:46   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Achyuth Vaibhav View Post
Hi,

Nissan contemplating on a Micra diesel A/T, Hyundai will follow them, Maruti will follow Hyundai, etc....
Really? Where did you read this? If true then it is like car re-invented.

I would like to see AT on diesel cars for 2 reasons. One, hard diesel clutch and two, better torque of diesel engines.

Verna is the cheapest diesel AT car there is. But it is sedan and it has 4-speed torque converter from stone age.

Quote:
Originally Posted by govigov View Post
As far as I know, the VGT/FGT in the diesels are causing manufacturers trouble in creating an auto transmission. The 1.3 fiat engine has never been mated to an auto transmission.

If you want an automatic diesel , verna may have one at about 12 Lacks.
I don't see any connection between VGT/FGT and AT.

Last edited by tsk1979 : 13th July 2013 at 17:21. Reason: back to back posts
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Old 13th July 2013, 16:55   #8
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Default re: Diesel + Automatic Hatchback: Who wants to create the segment?

Some companies like GM who have AT boxes in US and sell cars like Beat in US on AT boxes, can bring the change. They may not have high costs in bringing the technology as they already have it. All they are wondering is will I make enough money ? Well, my question is Are you making enough money anyway? Why not be the first and get a new product and get first mover advantage. Others will take up some time to get AT boxes on diesel hatch.
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Old 13th July 2013, 17:06   #9
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Default re: Diesel + Automatic Hatchback: Who wants to create the segment?

If I remember right, smallest diesel engine mated to an automatic transmission by a mainstream manufacturer is Renault's 110 PS version of 1.5 dCi. I read somewhere that Fluence is available with 1.5 dCi with 6 speed dual clutch transmission.

I believe small displacement engines with large turbochargers may produce higher peak torque, but at the cost of a steep torque curve. This is not suitable for traditional torque converters. May be the dual clutch automatic transmissions can solve the problem, but I guess the transmission will need to have higher number of gears with closely spaced ratios, to keep the engine revving in its peak torque band.

We can complain about manufacturers not launching their latest technologies, but do we have the right to complain about manufacturers not inventing something for their primary markets, let alone emerging markets like India?
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Old 13th July 2013, 17:23   #10
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Arrow re: Diesel + Automatic Hatchback: Who wants to create the segment?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pgsagar View Post
Really? Where did you read this? If true then it is like car re-invented.
.
From this post:
Quote:
Originally Posted by karan561 View Post
Attachment 1094729

There may be a Green light for Micra Diesel A/T says Mr Takada, Head of product planning, General Manager at Nissan Motor India.

Source: http://indianautosblog.com/2013/06/n...d-exists-80800
They say that they will bring it based on the market's interest.

Cheers,

Achyuth
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Old 13th July 2013, 18:03   #11
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Default re: Diesel + Automatic Hatchback: Who wants to create the segment?

I was planning to start a thread on the same. My exact thoughts Coolfire. I am sure no diesel guy would mind a loss of 1-2 kmpl if he was to have an auto transmission. I do not mind paying an additional 30k to 50k for a relief to my left knee.
There is definitely a market out there. The front runner could definitely benefit from the early advantage by the time others come up. Just the way duster is having a fun time now with no serious competition.
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Old 13th July 2013, 18:10   #12
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Default re: Diesel + Automatic Hatchback: Who wants to create the segment?

The only reason I can think of is due to pricing. A diesel Ritz AT would easily come dangerously close to the pricing of the Swift ZDI. Similarily the Swift ZDI AT would come dangerously close to lets say the Vento TDI and so on. And hence the car makers probably fear that it won't sell as the customer might just as well get a car from the next segment and we Indians anyways love the concept of " more car per rupee". But I totally agree wuth you that there is a dire need of a diesel hatch with an AT box.
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Old 13th July 2013, 18:52   #13
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Default re: Diesel + Automatic Hatchback: Who wants to create the segment?

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Originally Posted by drmohitg View Post
The only reason I can think of is due to pricing. A diesel Ritz AT would easily come dangerously close to the pricing of the Swift ZDI. Similarily the Swift ZDI AT would come dangerously close to lets say the Vento TDI and so on. And hence the car makers probably fear that it won't sell as the customer might just as well get a car from the next segment and we Indians anyways love the concept of " more car per rupee". But I totally agree wuth you that there is a dire need of a diesel hatch with an AT box.
Most of the foreign brands have both Diesel & Petrol models that are mated to AT boxes. I personally saw a couple of mini (800cc class) hatches in Singapore that had AT/CVT boxes mated to petrol engines. I guess the Indian heads of Operations are not bold enough to convince headquarters.

I recall a correspondence I had with the head of marketing of Ford 7 years ago re getting AT version of the Fusion. His stand could be summaries as "who will bell the cat?"
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Old 13th July 2013, 20:34   #14
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There are 2 frontiers that Indian automobile manufacturers are yet to tread on, the diesel automatic and the automatic motorcycle, I really don't know why they are not taking the plunge. There is a ready market out there for these vehicles, maybe Tata could take the lead on the diesel automatic and Mahindra could do an automatic bike
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Old 13th July 2013, 21:38   #15
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Default re: Diesel + Automatic Hatchback: Who wants to create the segment?

In current scenario, the problem is automakers think because of extra cost thy will not generate volume and since automakers in India rely on segments with high volume, the diesel AT is not made yet. Even Ecosport Diesel is not AT.

If Micra diesel AT comes out, and below 650,000, I am gonna make a beeline for the showroom.
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