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Old 20th November 2009, 16:11   #31
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Santro was the perfect city car in its time. Let down by bouncy ride, hard seats poor highway performance, but was extremely reliable car.
I wish car manufacturers today focus more on cheap and practical tall boy cars for city use - like the Santro and WagonR. These cars make a lot of sense for a lot of people.
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Old 20th November 2009, 16:50   #32
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1) Santro and Atoz were not similar. They were different cars. Santro was special for India built at a cost to price it competitively. Maruti offered better quality in Zen as it had an advantage of setting up early and hence a wider supplier base and also volumes were high.

Also, Hyundai claimed that Santro was up there with international safety standards, Santro was never crashtested internationally. The only reason why Xing came out was because they had to update the car to atleast meet international safety norms.

2) The basics of the Santro motor are deeply connected with 796cc Suzuki motor that came in Maruti 800. Kia also had showcased the F8 motor in 50 bhp format at some auto-show. Read this in Auto India when it was largest selling mag. Though not a ditto copy, Hyundai did follow 796cc Suzuki motor for Santro's motor design.

3) The original Tall boy was a Honda back in late 60's or 70's. Suzuki was the first to offer this design with WagonR. Maruti made a mistake by not bringing in Wagon R early. Santro and Atoz are took cue from Wagon R.

4) Santro was let down by poor highway manners and performance. Zen even with 50 bhp mill easily was better performer. Ride at rear was not good, handling was nothing to write home about.

5) The only factor that Hyundai could offer more was space. The tall boy design was an added bonus. Reliability issue initially cropped up when in rains the cars got damaged. One of my childhood friends bought this car just as it was launched and it was one of the first santro in Vadodara city. Green color Santro it was. They faced similar issue with the car.

Originally Posted by DCEite View Post
Santro was the perfect city car in its time. Let down by bouncy ride, hard seats poor highway performance, but was extremely reliable car.
I wish car manufacturers today focus more on cheap and practical tall boy cars for city use - like the Santro and WagonR. These cars make a lot of sense for a lot of people.
Agree with you. The current generation cars are on the styling rage, but atleast for city use in India, function wins over form.
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Old 20th November 2009, 18:23   #33
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Part 6: India's most eagerly awaited car arrives in grand style claiming that it is the end of the small car....

December 30, 1998

With fair amounts of Santros and zens, and a few matiz roaming our country's streets, Tata announces the launch of its much awaited small car, the Indica with killer prices aimed at these 3 models.
3 diesel models and one petrol model are launched.
  • Petrol, 1405 cc, 60 bhp 4 speed carb, 10.7 kg-m torque, just 2,59,000 ex-showroom.
  • DL Diesel non AC, 1405 cc 4 speed, 53.5 bhp, 8.7 kg-m, just 2,85,000 ex-showroom.
  • DLE diesel with AC, just 2,95,000 ex-showroom.
  • DLX fully loaded with PS, power windows on ALL 4 DOORS (first in class), central locking, rear wiper/ washer/ defogger, parcel tray, clock, tachometer, 5 speed gearbox etc, 3,90,000 ex-showroom.
It is the DLE's shock price of 2,95,000 that causes a rattle in the industry.Simple put, at least on paper, there isn't any small car which gives you more metal for the money and the economy of a diesel in a way the Indica DLE promises.
  • So what if the engine produces a modest 54 bhp from a huge 1400 cc displacement?
  • So what if a car weighs 980 kg giving it an unfavorable power to weight ratio?
  • So what if the car just has a 4 speed gearbox on the base models?
All above things be damned, the Indian public finally gets the car that it needs, a car which is conceived in India by Indians rather being adopted for it.
While Hyundai celebrates its first milestone by delivering its 10,000th santro in January 1999, the amount of bookings that Indica nets in its first week simply blows the competition away, 1,15,000 and more to be precise.

Its billed as a triumph of Indian engineering and tata thanks people for having trust and faith in Indian product and its Indian parent, it ignites a sense of patriotism.
Clearly, there is no replacement for displacement and while people comment that 1400 cc is too much for such a "small car" like the Indica, at least on paper, the car seems almost perfect, well, almost.

While deliveries of the Indica begin, Maruti quietly adds central locking, front power windows, rear washer and wiper to thezen VX and keeps the price the same, while retaining the basic model, the LX priced below 3 lakhs.

Hyundai's Santro still sells strongly in the market, while the uno gets a raft of petrol engine upgrades in the form of two barrel mikuni carbs and lower priced trend variants, with features like front head rests and rear parcel tray deleted. Most importantly, the price is also dropped, to about 2,75,000 for this model. It does put up some fight but not enough to shake the competition.
Sales of the Matiz are just OK, with UP contributing to large chunk of the sales. Production of the car is stopped temporarily in February 1999, as Daewoo tries to desperately revive the sagging sales of the matiz.

The Korean cola wars continue meanwhile an Daewoo this time plays a big card on proclaiming that its car is safest in the class and prints a big picture of the bodyshell in a full page print ad and attacks the santro, zen and even the Indica for being "unsafe" and says that their cars are not tested to global standards.

Meanwhile Hyundai receives some complaints of ECU failures in some santros as water seeps into it during floods, causing breakdowns and starting problems, especially in the eastern part of the country.
To make matters worse, Daewoo takes advantage of this again highlights this in a new set of print ads saying that the car which claims to have "genius inside" is not so genius...

Little did people knew that these ads were to become what is probably one of the biggest rivalries in automotive history with cut throat competition to become even more intense and merciless in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the santro was the country's second best selling small car in that segment after the zen, and was closing on it's sales. Till then, about 20,000 and counting "ugly ducklings" were roaming our roads.
  • Daewoo, meanwhile had a surprise in store for Hyundai in march 1999.
  • And in july 1999, Maruti achieved an unexpected milestone that totally surprised Hyundai even more further.
What were these 2 surprises? and what kind of "marketing and ad wars" are in store for us?

Find out in the next part, as things are about to get a whole lot interesting.

Last edited by sidindica : 20th November 2009 at 18:30.
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Old 20th November 2009, 20:41   #34
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Cant wait to read Part 6 of your write up.
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Old 20th November 2009, 22:10   #35
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Part 7: Post Indica, price war intensifies in the redefined small car market.

The Indica's shock price tag sent shock waves in the Indian car market and judging by the huge amount of bookings announced, Tata Motors was obviously under pressure to start deliveries as soon as possible and mass producing an entirely new product line with quality control was the single biggest challenge which unfortunately Tata did not manage to accomplish.

Whatever the case may be, majority of the cars delivered with quality problems right from day one created utter customer dissatisfaction and the Indica, once hailed as the company's diamond was proving to be too rough for the customers to handle.

While the company was busy investigating and trying to make amends, something was cooking at Daewoo motors and in March 1999, it launched not one, not two but four variants of the matiz in the market, directly pitched against the santro. The price was marginally dropped and finally, a decent level of standard features was offered in each variant. Finally the small car wars has begun.

The matiz had:
  • SS (non AC), priced at 2,57,000 ex-factory UP
  • SD (AC, 2 speaker RDC player, parcel tray, mudflaps), priced 2,85,147 ex-factory UP
  • SE (current model upgraded with mud flaps and wheel covers, in addition to a 4 speaker RDC player, central locking, front power windows, moulded door trims), priced at 3,27,846 ex-factory UP
  • SP (top model with addition of power steering, high power RDC player with 4 speakers, roof rails, rear washer/ wiper/ defogger etc), priced at 3,46,300 ex-factory UP.
While the base model was targeted at M 800, the other 3 models were targeted at the santro variants respectively and suddenly, the Korean wars intensified even more. Suddenly, all the matiz's positive attributes of cute looks, mileage, chilling AC and space within compact footprint were endearing to the customers, who were willing to forgive the feeble engine's sluggish performance. Its low height meant that it was more stable on highways and its handling was touted as one of the best in segment, second only to the segment benchmark, the Zen. Suddenly, the matiz was averaging about 3,500-4,000 month, from a measely monthly average of 900-1,500 units since launch. The santro was still way ahead, averaging 5,000-7,000 units per month, while the zen was just a nose ahead.

The Indica netted about 25,000 units till august from the date of booking, IIRC.
Meanwhile, the month of july bought an unexpected star performer from the maruti's stables-the sales figures of Zen. Can you believe it, despite of stiff competition from matiz and santro, the zen sold a record breaking (for 1999) 7,907 units in july alone. August was even higher, at 7,977. September however was a turning point when the santro was almost closing in on zen by selling about 7,340 units IIRC, the zen fell to about 7,500 plus.The matiz was settling to about 4,000 units per month avg.

Buyoed by the success of the matiz, the ad-war between the Korean giants intensified and it was Hyundai first which criticised the matiz for being underpowered and touted its proven track record by airing a series of TV commercials showing happy santro families where one claims that he is getting an average of 20, the other women claims that easy entry and exit is a boom for women wearing a sari, etc.

Daewoo reverts back by claiming the car's first place in the JD power IIQS in 1999 where it was actually placed first in quality, the santro was second. Come September 1999 and it sees a new premier automobile magazine-the autocar India with its mega inaugural issue on the newsstands.
World exclusive coverage for the then comeback vehicle of ford-the ikon but most importantly, I bought the magazine (it was priced at Rs. 40) on my way to school at morning 7 AM from my local newsstand to read the mega 5 small car comparison test between zen, indica petrol, uno petrol, matiz and santro in which the santro was declared the winner based on its all round talent, gawky looks notwithstanding.
This shot up santro's sales even further as Hyundai used this tool to highlight the santro's merits.
Again, Daewoo used the Matiz's best in class in gear acceleration figures taken from that autocar issue to highlight the superiority of the 3 pot M-TEC engine and the Korean cola wars continued...

Meanwhile the "lower" midsize market, dominated by esteem, saw the arrivals of ford's comeback vehicle, the ikon and Hyundai's second offering, the accent in Indian market which started a new round of rivalries. Both these cars eventually became success stories for their respective brands.

Meanwhile, the small car market is hotting up even more and as the year end is approaching, this Christmas, the 2 way Korean war will turn into a 3-way space war as another very important car is about to be launched soon...

Like I mentioned before, in India, the cola war was between Coke, Pepsi and thumbs up and eventually, one succumbed to pressure and paid the price.
Similarly, this space war will intensify way in the new millennium and eventually, one will pay the price after some time.
Besides, the new millennium will be a huge wake up call for all manufacturers as the country gears up for something very important.....

What points am I highlighting and talking about in italics?
Find out next in part 8, coming soon.

And Ooh la la, I am enjoying writing this...

Last edited by sidindica : 20th November 2009 at 22:24.
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Old 21st November 2009, 01:39   #36
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Once again another Excellent tribute Sid. Santro, though i haven't bought one, but it will always remain a special car to me as it was in a Santro that I learned to drive.

Excellent Read
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Old 21st November 2009, 08:17   #37
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Originally Posted by sidindica View Post
Part 7: Post Indica, price war intensifies in the redefined small car market.

Meanwhile, the small car market is hotting up even more and as the year end is approaching, this Christmas, the 2 way Korean war will turn into a 3-way space war as another very important car is about to be launched soon...

Like I mentioned before, in India, the cola war was between Coke, Pepsi and thumbs up and eventually, one succumbed to pressure and paid the price.
Similarly, this space war will intensify way in the new millennium and eventually, one will pay the price after some time.
Besides, the new millennium will be a huge wake up call for all manufacturers as the country gears up for something very important.....

What points am I highlighting and talking about in italics?
Find out next in part 8, coming soon.

And Ooh la la, I am enjoying writing this...
Does Matiz succumbed to pressure?
Does Euro I or II play a role as a huge wake up?

And ooh la la, I am enjoying READING this
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Old 21st November 2009, 13:22   #38
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Part 8: The empire strikes back by launching a tall skyscraper recreational wagon to ignite the space wars.....

Christmas Day, December 25, 1999.

Finally, the empire strikes back. Feeling threatened by the numbers that the santro was doing in recent months, almost closing on the zen, it launches its first small car in 6 years.Its Japan's best selling car, the recreational wagon, simply called as the WAGON R.

While the Santro continues to be called the tall boy, the wagon R is termed as the "tall man" due to its skyscraper like proportions, especially the tall height (1660 mm) as compared to the Santro (1590 mm).
  • It is launched in 3 variants
  • LX with AC, black bumpers at about 3,50,000 ex-showroom
  • VX with power windows front, central locking, warning lights, rear wiper, coloured bumpers, split rear bucket seats, reclining rear seats (first in class), 2 speaker RDC player, warning buzzer, tachometer etc for about 4,20,000 ex-showroom
  • AX with 3 speed automatic at a very high price (cannot recall).
  • no power steering is offered initially.
Maruti makes sure that along with that, the debut for made in India F10D powertrain (based on M800's 3 cylinder F8D, but with an added cylinder bolted on) is packed with all the latest tech like MPFI, first in class 16 valve configuration and flat torque curve to minimize low rpm jerks and frequent downshift and a 3 link isolated trailing arm rear suspension to minimize the risk of roll over.
Moreover, though the interiors lack any design flair, they are indeed very practical with every nook and corner being scooped out to provide 16 storage spaces here, there and everywhere.
In fact, it is the wagon R which actually was launched in Japan in 1997 as the proper tall boy before Hyundai followed suit in Korea.

As mentioned by me on my earlier threads, the matiz, santro and the wagon R are now involved in a 3-way space wars, similar to the 3 way Cola wars in India since each car takes a different and a radical approach towards maximizing space within a small footprint, read 3.5 M length into 1.5 M width.

The main reason is that they are classified as "kei" cars where in their respective countries of origin, they are given heavy tax concessions, so manufacturers have to come up with ingenious ideas of either to place seats higher, or to increase the headroom, or to go forward with the cab forward design to maximize passenger space, while retaining the car's user friendly nature and also, the underpinnings are almost common, as seen here.
Maruti now had one car for enthusiasts (zen), whereas the wagon R was targeted at small families looking for a practical car. It was cleverly engineered, faster off the block than the santro and matiz and a close fuel efficient in comparison to the matiz due to the engine's tall gearing and flat torque curve.
Its shape was just true to its name-it was a wagon, a breed of half van and half car. Compared to the forced styling of the santro, Maruti made no apologies to make this look like a proper wagon and looked as if it was designed by a ruler, a modern version of a breadbox-on-wheels to maximise passenger space. It's boot was also the most usable and practical of the trio, in fact it had more usable boot space then the Indica!
One of its design marvels was simply its rear seats which was reclining and when front headrests removed, the front seat can be fully reclined and the car acted as a double bed! So much that it was classified as a Multi Activity Vehicle (MAV).

But did all these transform into sales? Yes and no.
Yes, for those who were loyal to maruti brand and finally looked at a proper alternative to the santro.
No, because of 3 reasons.
  • high price for the technology and maruti brand
  • cheap looking interiors in comparision to the santro
  • no power steering option
Moreover, public criticized the car's boxy shape and thought that Maruti is too desperate to make a dent in the santro's sales that it launched the product in a hurry without doing proper homework. It was also severly undertyred, and question on its highway stability, as a result of "shorter than the santro" wheelbase (2380 mm VS 2360 mm) also limited its success with sales hovering at about 1000 units per month.

....while the nation gears up for the upcoming euro 2 norms taking a toll on manufacturers.

Meanwhile, the government announced that stricter euro 2 norms will take into effect from april 2000 and this meant that all manufacturers had to upgrade from carbs and SPFI to MPFI engines with ECU controlled emission system.

While Hyundai and Maruti were busy tweaking their cars to meet these norms, it was Daewoo which was merrily sitting watching the tamasha unfold since both its cars were already euro 2 compliant from the start.

So, in February 2000, while launching the limited edition "matiz millenium" series, it attacked Hyundai directly for charging extra for euro 2 and metallic paint to the santro customers and also claimed that the engine is the same as launched without any tweaks...

And boy...Hyundai did launch the euro 2 version of the santro as an option to its customers for Rs. 11,000 way back in mid january. It launched a counter attack on the matiz questioning the engine's origins to the 1908s daewoo tico and also criticizing the matiz's puny body shell as being unsafe which has to be reinforced at every nook and corner and so on..went on to say that its doors are equipped with a single side impact beam as compared to the santro's 2 side impact beams on each door.

Maruti meanwhile was silent, watching the drama unfold.
Its sales were flat that month and for the first time in february and march, it was the Santro that outsold the zen for the first time and this made maruti worried, very worried. Matiz sales were stable at 4,500 units per month and the zen-santro were fighting it out at 6,500-7,000 units per month. The wagon R was hovering at about 1,500 units IIRC per month.

Time for euro 2 norms to take effect and maruti finally gives a major heart transplant to the zen it always needed. The 993 cc gets MPFI, 16 valve per cylinder tech, power is up to 60 bhp and the engine is more rev happy and smoother than before.The enthusiasts are delighted.

Maruti 800 too targets the matiz with a reworked F8B motor with 16V tech and power is bumped up to 45 bhp, with an addition of 5 speed box and better AC cooling. This new motor is termed F8D, and it is this motor that the wagon R's F10D is based on.
Sounds perfect, sales of the 800 increase dramatically.

All these MPFI maruti engines are termed as 16 X 4 hypertech (16 bit ECU and 4 valves per cylinder) an are commercially aired in TV and print.

To further tighten the grip in the heated small car market, for the first time in the Indian market, the zen is launched with a motor driven power steering or electric power steering (EPS), which is driven by a small ECU controlled motor under the steering column and does away with heavy components like power steering fluid, and other parts which make convectional hydraulic power steerings heavy.

The already light car is made even lighter with this addition and the zen becomes the default enthusiasts choice as a chuckable city hatch. This model is called as the VXi and comes with rear defogger in addition to the EPS as compared to the VX, at an additional cost of 20,000.

The ever so confident daewoo also significantly upgrades the matiz engine in may 2000 with an addition of knock sensor, increasing the compression ratio and upgrading the intake manifold to that of a plastic one. The result of that: pickup is better, so is the mileage.
A new ad campaign featuring Lisa Ray and Sanjay Suri is aired featuring "love at first drive".
  • 2 new colours-poly silver and cypress green make their debut.
  • to keep the price the same, some features are deleted from all models.
  • SS deletes mudflaps
  • SD loses the most, with the deletion of 2 speaker RDC, LHS OSRVM and mud flaps
  • SE regains the RDC but loses mudflaps and rear speakers
  • SP loses only roof rails.
It is this time that I was just walking around my colony and saw a matiz at a roadshow and while my mom was purchasing vegetables, she too saw the car and I knew that this car will come soon to my driveway.
That time, I finished off my class X boards (finally serious in studies) and while I am off to MP, my dad goes to dynamic automobiles, Noida and gives full payment and purchases a top of the line matiz SP in excel grey colour (pictured below with my current car, santro).
The old ride, premier padmini, is exchanged for it.
The space inside is amazing, the improved engine is significantly better with the AC on and the highway stability is terrific. Handling is also benign while the 4 speaker RDC player sounds good too. Roof rails were fitted at extra cost from dealer.

Meanwhile the santro achieves its first milestone of 50,000 sales once its launch and the upgraded engine shoots up matiz sales more than ever before.

Fiat also, though not directly part of the war, replaces the Uno's 999cc FIRE engine with the erstwhile siena's 1242 cc centrally fuel injected engine which produces 62 bhp and significantly improves acceleration and mileage. Power steering is not available on any petrol models, only the diesel has it.
An interesting but forgotten point to note is that Fiat advertises its petrol Uno as EURO 3 compliant!
It is launched in 3 models-trend with AC, EL with front head restraints and rear parcel tray and ELX with central locking, front power windows,rear wiper and body coloured bumpers (finally!)

The Indica too gains MPFI tech and badged as Indica 2000, details of which can be found in my Indica thread.

The small car wars will take a new turn as Hyundai tries to zip and zap past the spicey competition.
The new move triggered by Hyundai will give a whole new meaning of the next level of car wars.

What is this policy of "spray and prey" that is triggered by Hyundai?
And what is the reaction?

Find out next in part 9, coming up.
Attached Thumbnails
A tribute to the Sunshine Car - The Hyundai Santro-dsc03266.jpg  

A tribute to the Sunshine Car - The Hyundai Santro-dsc03290.jpg  

Last edited by sidindica : 21st November 2009 at 13:35.
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Old 21st November 2009, 18:17   #39
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Part 9: "power" is the only way to "steer" as a zippy Santro steers ahead of zappy wagon R while the spicey matiz becomes the first victim as.......

May 2000, the competition takes a new turn as Hyundai becomes the first manufacturer to offer a power steering in a lower end varient with a 18,000 price cut. The whole model range is repositioned while with the addition of power steering, the mid level loses out on defogger, wheel caps, mud flaps, waistline moulding and front fog lamps, the price being the same.

Finally the toothy grill is replaced by a more palatable horizontal slat grill and the model gets a new name-SANTRO ZIP DRIVE.

A new ad campaign is aired with SRK performing city maneuvers in a zippy manner and says "Pesh hai naya Santro zip drive. Isme hai power steering makhkhan jaisi driving ke liye".
  • 3 variants-LE, LS and GS are launched.
  • base model is renamed as LE
  • mid level model (DX 1)-adds power steering and deletes some embellishments mentioned above, renamed as LS
  • top model (DX 2) gains a spoiler and renamed as GS.
  • new colors introduced and some old ones phased out.
These changes make sure that santro sales are kept at a momentum and its still the number one selling compact car (excl m800) for next 6 months.

Terrified, maruti finally repositions the Wagon R and offers power steering models in LXi and VXi models, within the same price range.
  • LX model remains as it is.
  • LXi adds PS, central locking and rear reclining seats
  • VX is replaced by VXi, out goes the RDC player and in comes the PS.
Heavy money is spent to get some honeys and a new ad campaign is aired positioning the wagon R as a multi activity vehicle claiming that if a guy next to you zips, zap him, directly targeting the santro.
Brochures are circulated at dealerships demonstrating the superiority of the wagon over the santro. Maruti this time leaves no stone unturned and is determined to topple the santro with its tall order wagon.

A series of counter attack ads contine to appear in print, between the 2 tall boys and the competition is destined for....don't know how long...

The wagon's sales finally show signs of rebound and while the santro is still number 1, the percentage increase in wagon's sales is more than 4 fold as compared to previous months. Discounts apart, both these cars give a new meaning to cut throat competition.
If Maruti and Hyundai continue to steal the limelight, why should Daewoo left behind?
The matiz SE and SP are phased out, replaced by SG and SA, both wih power steering as standard.
  • SS and SD remain as it is.
  • SE is replaced by SG, and this is an all new model which adds PS and coloured bumpers to SD.Priced is slashed by Rs. 25,000 in comparison to SE model as money creature comforts are deleted.
  • SP is replaced by SA, it gains a spoiler and remote keyless entry (class first factory fitted) and deletes the RDC player and roof rails.
A new campaign called total SPICE (acronym for Safety, Power, Innovation, Comfort and Economy) is launched and again, the 3 car space wars are back. The SG matiz is now the cheapest car with the PS and as a result, this model's sales shoot up (matiz averages 4,700 units per month after that), but unfortunately after some time, the global Asian financial crisis looms.

......Daewoo motors goes belly up.

Yes, the Asian financial crisis plunges the stock markets of many Asian markets, Japan and South Korea in particular. Stock Value of Daewoo motors plunges by more than 80 %, and so for Kia motors (which is later taken over by Hyundai in 2003).

A scandal in the parent company Daewoo Korea is unearthed by the Korean government and the chairman is accused of overvaluing the company's assets when he took bank loans at the time the company was heavily expanding in Europe. A case of fraud is registered and angry investors want a solution.
Meanwhile, the company Daewoo Motors is officially declared bankrupt in November 2000 and the effect of this is also heavily felt in India. Distressed Matiz owners and dealers question the company's commitment to India and its future. Owners begin to question the availability of spares and service backup if the company's operations in India are also affected.
Daewoo hurridly tries to remedy the situation and conducts a nationwide roadshow, planning to launch 3 mid-size cars-the lanos, the nubira and the magnus soon if the restructing goes smoothly as planned. The matiz, meanwhile in Korea, gets its first face lift which never saw the light of the day in India.

As the days pass by, a number of dealers begin to give up Daewoo franchise. they either shut down or take another competitor's dealership. Delhi, which had 10 dealers, now has only 4.

Hyundai, meanwhile, already known for its controversial comparisons, takes full advantage of the situation and a dealer of UP publishes full page ads in all the local dailies of UP claiming the credibility of Daewoo motors and what will happen if the company goes belly up?
As a daewoo owner, what if parts/spares will not be available to you?
What if the company ceases its operations in India?

The ad is something like this:
Car aapke ghar, company sadak par?

"kya aap jaante hain ki ek company jo ki 800 cc ki gaadi banati hai woh diwalaya ghoshit ho gayi hai.
kya hoga agar aap apni mehnat ki kamai us gaadi pe lagayange jiska koi bhavishya hi nahi hai?
kya aapko service aur spares milega?
doosri ki mat suniye, apni akal lagaye aur kharidye srf ek hi gaadi-
Hyundai Santro.
Bharat ki number one selling car."

These ads were heavily circulated in meerut, agra and noida, areas where a large chunk of matiz sales came for daewoo since it enjoyed sales tax exemptions.
And the damage has been done. Matiz sales plunged by more than 50 % in november and santro gained heavily in these areas. Lakhs of Santros are now a common sight while it was the beginning of the end of the matiz.
Daewoo filed a lawsuit with chairman Awasthi accusing BVR Subbu of denting the company's image and the ruling was done in favour of Daewoo. Subbu immediately advised Hyundai's UP dealers to withdraw these ads but it was too late.The matiz is doomed.

The empire, meanwhile launches its hottest little car in town, a new "alto"native.

Maruti, wanting to solidify its position in the small car market, launches its much awaited small car, the alto,in November 2000 which is a successor to the zen in European markets that time, in Indian market with its actual name. the LX model is launched at a shock price of below Rs. 3 lakh whereas the VX is launched at 3,90,000.
  • For the first time, maruti offer 2 engine options in the alto.
  • LX (with AC) is powered by F8D 3 cylinder motor that powers the 5 speed 800.
  • VX model is powered by wagon R's F10D engine and gains tacho, central locking, power windows, internally adjustable OSRVM, rear wiper and body colored bumpers etc.
  • 2,500 altos booked within the first 4 days.
  • The car is actually seen as the 800's successor.
  • In addition to that, maruti also launches a special "signature edition" alto for a month in purple, olive green and orange color IIRC. the only change is a jazzy seat fabric.
While the wars are hotting up, the year 2001 will see a slew of upgrades and more launches, including one that will change the market's equation and herald a dramatic comeback for an automaker....

To know it to the max, find out in part 10, coming up next.

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Old 21st November 2009, 22:33   #40
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Part 10: Santro gets facelifted to the max while Indica V2 gives it competition to the max but.....

While daewoo tries hard to revive the sagging matiz sales, what it triggers of will again change the market dynamics. It starts giving upto 4 years of warrenty coverage (extended) as compared to 2 years provide by most manufacturers, as extended warranty is still not offered as options by competition. In the coming months, the warrenty wars include all players and this only means good news for the consumer. This includes:
  • daewoo matiz: 2 years plus 2 years extended
  • Hyundai santro: 2 years plus 1 year extended
  • maruti zen/alto/wagon r: 2 years
  • tata indica: 18 months plus 18months extended.
the Hyundai Santro goes its first facelift which gives it new crystal headlights, taillights, new accent like wheel caps on GS and new upgraded upholstery, which make its already supposedly "luxurious" interior even more. A new varient-LP, that is LE with PS is also introduced at a price which undercuts the matiz SG, the wagon R LXi and Zen VXi.
The model is hit, especially with women buyers.

tata motors, meanwhile also joins the power steered bandwagon with the introduction of Indica DLS, along with significantly re-engineered Indica V2 diesel range, finally putting the indica back on buyers' radar. Suddenly the small car wars have intensified.

Sales figures put the Indica ahead of wagon R for the first time in mid of that year, as the new V2 is a smash hit.
The santro continues to do robustly after the facelift, while the zen still chugs along nicely. The matiz, meanwhile is almost dying a slow death, only helped by ever number of increasing daewoo dealers which have either shut down or are out of business or changed dealerships etc.

.....Santro becomes zippier. But all is not over yet as.......

While the year 2001 progresses well, Hyundai further targets the wagon R IIRC by finally giving the car more power in august that year.

The car is called Santro ZipPlus an its tagged as "More Power, More fun."
The same 4 models remain (LE, LP, LS, GS), while the epsilon gets some serious tweaks to the hardware. Increased capacity from 999 cc to 1086 cc, power is upped from 55 bhp to 63 bhp and torque is upped from 8.5 kg-m to 9.1 kg-m. At a marginal price increase of just Rs. 7,000 approx, the best all rounder just got better. Ignition is also distributor-less now, called the DLI.

Wagon R meanwhile again picks up momentum after maruti upgrades it with new interiors and VXI gains a spoiler.
The alto, too gains the VXi variant with the addition of EPS called the alto spin.
Maruti spared no time in bashing Hyundai Santro, with a huge ad titled "congrats santro for finally catching up with our 1.1 litre engine" and still compared santro with wagon R an alto saying that that new engine is still inferior in terms of technology (DDLI VS DLI, 16 X 4 hypertech VS 12 X 8 epsilon etc and so on...) but that doesn't necessarily transform into huge sales gains, and maruti's effort to topple santro again bears no fruit, with the car almost on the way to becoming the bestselling small B segment car of 2001.
But in September 2001, an unexpected comeback is made to the max......

....Fiat launches the palio claiming its technology to the max by promoting Sachin Tendulkar to the max to take the spotlight away from the santro...

Fiat makes a dramatic comeback with a new logo, a new team, a new dealership network and launches its first assault in the heart of small car segment-the Fiat Palio in 5 variants, covering the entire spectrum of small car segment.
  • EL priced at 3,49,000 ex-showroom Delhi
  • EL PS priced at 3,69,000 ex-Delhi
  • ELX priced at 3,99,000 ex-Delhi
  • GTX priced at 4,99,000 ex-Delhi
  • GTX SP priced at 5,50,000 ex-Delhi.
feature for feature, spec for spec, size to price to features, the palio is a far superior car in every counts, a proper car designed for third world countries, similar to India, backed by solid build, best in class ride, handling and refinement and to top it off, competitive price meant that it was a guaranteed success from day one, fiat's past history be damned.

Aggressive promotion by Sachin Tendulkar also helped with huge queues outside Fiat showrooms and the car was on a 6 week waiting, unheardof in this segment and for a brand like Fiat, unbelievable.
The dent in Santro sales was immediate but the percentage drop was just modest. Hyundai began to increase product awareness with more commercials and discounts to keep the momentum going. It also won the manufacturer of the year award in the inaugural auto car awards because all its products were declared the leaders in its segments.

2001 was the year with Santro finishing at number one followed by Zen, Indica, Wagon R and alto. The Matiz meanwhile was almost dead with only a few counts of dealers selling stock at UP/NCR region.
Daewoo quietly upgraded its entire matiz range calling it "matiz 2002" in November 2001 and UP was the only market where it was released, at a rock bottom price of 2,57,000-3,20,000.

Not everybody knows that matiz 2002 was the first production car in India with a factory fitted reverse parking sensor called the ultrasonic back up guide system.
The car did continue to sell in UP in decent numbers though with eventually only 2 dealers depleting the stocks.

Now while 2001 was ending and 2002 was near, it will again be an year of many hits and misses and unfortunately, one more product will pay the price of negative perception. Which one is it?

Find out in part 11, coming soon.

Last edited by sidindica : 21st November 2009 at 22:50.
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Old 21st November 2009, 22:44   #41
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At that point of time my Dad used to drive a Zen so as as a teenager who just learned to drive i found Santro ugly. But when i drove Santro for first time i was amazed with the awesome low end but however found the gears so short at that point of time a car which had taller gears was a better car for me.

Over the time this car grew up on me, later i found this car to be the best petrol car in the segment, i still dont mind buying this car if were in market looking for a petrol car at this price range.
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Old 22nd November 2009, 00:30   #42
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Nice thread. Santro Xing (2006), my first car. I test drove both Wagon R and Santro Xing. Was disappointed by the vague power steering (no feedback at all) and equally vague (rubbery) gearshift of the Wagon R. Booked the Xing. Now, after 3 years and 35000 kms, it's all smiles. The only problem the car ever had till now, was a puncture and some scratched exterior (driving in Bangalore city ) My trips varied from 10 Kms to my office and 685 Kms to my home in Kerala.
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Old 22nd November 2009, 01:35   #43
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Talking Dogs, an advertisement which Daewoo tried to spoof upon to promote the Matiz. I remember the TV ad saying Our cars don't have talking dogs and blah.

I remember spotting Santro first at Samara Hyundai, on my way back home from school. The Red car had unusual styling, something different which took time to gain acceptance, and in a few months sold like hot cakes.

The first Santro in the family was Silver Santro L2 (Basic version), pre-owned bought in April 2001 (1998 make); a 998cc engine car with powerful airconditioner and much powerful braking (prior to this we had 800). One thing which astonished me was the ability of the car to retain it's stationary nature on a slope just by the handbrake, something which I recollect 800 lacked. The silver car was simply amazing, engine was so silent and the drive was wonderful. The car clocked 1.27 Lakh kms and was sold in early 2008.

In Summers of 2006, when I was in 11th standard I joined the driving school and learnt on a Gas powered Santro Zip Drive.

Then joined a Silver Santro Xing XL in December 2006. The car marked the beginning of my love with Xing and my first experience with ICE. JBL rears, Sony fronts and Sony Mp3 player; my dream system was in place and I remember the reaction of my friends when they were told about the JBL speakers (that time JBL was not so popular). This car has clocked 64k+ kms and is still running good.

In October 2007, barely a month after I got my permanent driving license we came across a classified in the newspaper: Real Earth Xing XO, May 2006 make, 2400 kms done. My younger bro and my uncle went to check the car and woo, the car was nothing less than just out of showroom. I wanted the Santro Xing only and didn't want to go for a new one; Real Earth (the colour I wanted), Top Model (XS was discontinued by that time, and this model was just short of body coloured door handles and ORVM's, Fog Lamps, Spoiler and Wheel Covers), Mint Condition; I couldn't have asked for anything better. The 3rd Free service was due too. The car has clocked 27.8k kms as of today and is very close to my heart. It's indeed a Sunshine car.

The Sikhs and Punjabis favourite car in NCR - Santro, that's what I think. Maybe it's because of the tall boy design it's a hit among this community.
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Old 22nd November 2009, 10:50   #44
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Part 11: The easy car to drive just got a lot easier, palio gets polio'd of negative perception while the zen gets upgraded too

Year 2002:

The most important year of my school life, was busy in class 12 pre boards and boards, so did not attend auto expo and as a commerce student was accountable for my business studies which had to be economical and at the same time, mathematically strong English background was needed.

The auto expo had nothing new to offer IIRC this time, and The palio was selling about 3,000-3,500 units per month. Fiat further launched 2 more variants-the 1.2 sport and 1.6 S 10, the first hatchback to touch the Rs. 6 lakh price barrier at that time.

About 500 units were planned to be produced, but were later increased to 1000.

The santro meanwhile was number one in JD power IIQS 2001 in its segment also, so obviously it was tom-tomed in their ads.
The zip plus was selling strongly but it was surprisingly the Indica which saw its sales grew by over 3 fold, thanks to the V2 upgrades and this year, the car was further refined, and it became India's number 2 selling car.

In August that year, Maruti launched a further variant of Zen with EPS, called the LXi which was positioned as an affordable alternative between the LX and Vxi, again it helped to increase sales. Meanwhile the WagonR interiors were again upgraded with softer plastics and new seat fabric which gave it a pretty upmarket feel, again the sales were hovering at about 4,000-5,000 units per month.
Now for the shocker-the year ending bought bad news for both Fiat as well as palio. Just as Fiat was on a rebound, word got abound that the palio was a big time gas guzzler and owners were reporting mileage of just 8-9 kmpl, overlooking the fact that many people were used to the tinny build of marutis and the car which was way too heavy for its segment obviously guzzled mroe fuel.
Wrong trip meter calibration (on par with Brazilian spec model, for low pro tyres) only added to its woes as the car used to under read distances covered from A to B. As most owners typically use this method to calculate fuel consumption, the satisfaction level was simply below par. Poor dealer reputation again escalated the ownership woes and the palio party was all but over.

The "small" small cars meanwhile broke sales records, Indica in particular which was the bestselling compact car (excl m 800) in the last months of the year. The alto too was doing decently.

Hyundai, meanwhile launched its 4 speed automatic version of the santro in september and advertised it heavily, targeted mainly at ladies and elderly at an affordable price as compared to 3-speed wagon R auto. The car was the first automatic compact car to be equipped with standard power steering and ABS was optional for it also.
The car, for its target market, sold pretty decently, as it was a city car thats quite easily the easiest car to drive.
A series of new ad campaigns with SRK and preity zinta is aired with a new slogan:

While nothing really new was offered in 2002, a number of bigger cars were launched in India but it is 2003 that the small car market will see some very, very big action as SRK is ousted from Hyundai brand promotion...

Meanwhile, in a new shining dawn, a new sun will come again...

Find out all about it in Part 12, coming up next.
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Old 23rd November 2009, 11:41   #45
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Part 12: 2003-The small car wars get a cosmetic boost with botox treatments and drama-tic face-lifts.
Meanwhile, the Indo-Italian war continues on the other spectrum...

2003, March

The new year starts off well, with car sales at a new high, but more action is in store for us. My new stage of life, perusing BBA, so relieved from my glorious school life with no tensions and pressures, just concentrate on studies and the car markets in India.

Fiat triggers of the first upgraded launch of the year that march in the form of Palio Diesel, targeting the segment bestseller, the Indica V2, which received further upgrades earlier.
  • launched at 3 variants
  • EL, ELX, ELX SP launched priced between 4,20,000-4,75,000 ex-showroom Delhi.
AS a crazy palio fan that time, after completing my classes, rushed to take a test drive (just newly acquired permanent license at age 18) at Vivek auto, mathura road and boy! what heck of a car it is. A big 1.9 diesel mill with 63 ps, high tech drive-by-wire throttle, ECU controlled EGR and fuel pump, brochure claiming that it is a car "inspired by aircraft technology" and that solid body shell with sturdy underpinnings felt like it its built to last and if properly maintained, will provide years of trouble free high mileage motoring, just what made the best engineered compact car on sale even better. Better mileage was just an icing on the cake.

But Fiat was cautious this time of production and produced limited cars to optimize the demand supply ratio. Again, sales rebounded and 1,150 palio diesels were sold in the first month.

Meanwhile, Fiat also upgrades its palio petrols with added features and upgraded interior fabrics with a price increase.

Meanwhile, time comes for Hyundai to strip off SRK with his contract in the beginning of May. Why?

A new shining dawn. Here comes the sun again and in comes the new santro xinging around.....

The Santro, after four and half years in the market and chart topper, goes a drama-tic face-lift and is re christened the santro xing.
SRK's contract is renewed and the next day, full 3-4 page ads appear in local dailies, signaling the chartbusting comeback of the sunshine car. But will it prove to be a blockbuster? More on that later...

The car incorporates many changes based on customer feedback like:
  • new imposing front end
  • new rectangular headlights
  • new grill and front bumper
  • new aerodynamic streamlined bonnet
  • new front fenders
  • new rear quarter panel
  • new tailgate
  • new rear bumper
  • new VW old passat like taillights
  • new colours
Mechanically, the engine is left unaltered but the car's weight increases by 80 kg and the bodyshell is reinforced further to meet the new European safety standards and India becomes the global production hub of the car, where it s exported as the "atos prime".
The interior also gets superior quality plastics, door trims and new AC vents along with an addition of rear parcel tray in all models.
It is launched in 5 variants:
  • XE- AC with heater, black bumpers
  • XP-AC, PS, waistline molding
  • XG-XP plus central locking, front power windows, rear wiper, body colored bumpers, chrome grille, fabric inserts on door trims etc.
  • AT-XG with 4 speed automatic transmission
  • XS with add-ons like full wheel cover, different front door trim, rear power windows, spoiler, full wheel cover, body coloured door handles, mud flaps, warning lights, adjustable rear head restraints etc.
  • first compact car to offer ABS as an option on ALL trims.
The interior quality, already the best in class, is even better, especially in the XS model. SRK and preity zinta are appointed as brand ambassadors while the commercials are aired.
This results in dramatic increase in santro sales and the car goes on a month's waiting, especially in north.

Forgotten about the matiz? The car's production has stopped, the company has packed up and left while the sole dealer in India-Noida based triumph motors is busy selling 70 odd cars left for rock bottom prices....

The Santro averages about 6,000-7,000 units per month, still beaten by the Indica which chugs along at 7,500 units per month.
Meanwhile, the initial hoopla of Palio diesel is all hype and no substance as an overconfident Fiat jacks up its prices by further 22,000 and the car's sales slide by year end at about 900-1000 units per month IIRC.

The swinging and xinging santro knocks on the empire's door and both the maruti's models-the zen and wagonR, are under threat. Meanwhile, the zen's sales begin to dwindle and so does the wagon R 's.

The empire strikes back with first botoxing the wagon R.....

While it may be a half hearted attempt, but the facelift is effective and the wagon R looks much better now.
  • Launched in 4 variants
  • LX, LXi, VXi and AX
  • LX and LXi retains the same features, LX gains split rear bench
  • VXI adds wheel covers,front fog lamps, better quality upholstery and rear defogger. Spoiler and rear wiper are deleted.
  • finally, 3 speed automatic AX gains power steering but loses tachometer and warning lights which is retained on VXi.
  • The face lift is restricted to clear lens head and taillights on the outside, while inside gains better plastics and new trims for seat and doors, thats it.
It does show signs of a rebound, with the tall boy wars now heating up.

Meanwhile, rumors get abound of a significantly upgraded zen on the cards.

.......and then the zen. But is it the beginning of the end?

In October 2003, Maruti, in an attempt to re-ignite the falling sales of the zen, gives it a major face lift which loses the classic jellybean design in favour of a mish-mash fusion of front and rear ends with old body panels.
  • new front grill
  • new headlights
  • new bonnet, bumper and fenders
  • new rear bumper
  • new tailgate with crystal taillights
  • launched in LX, LXi, VXi, D and Di models
  • all models gain body colored bumpers
  • vxi gains front and rear fog lamps
  • all models get new redesigned seats and new fabric.
  • priced between 3,25,000-4,50,000 approx
  • AX is discontinued
While maruti airs its commercial highlighting the facelift as inspired by "katalyst" system (inspired by cheetah, tiger leopard, jaguar etc etc as mentioned at that brochure..), the critics and analysts term it again as the beginning of the end of the zen. potential customers too are disappointed by the so called "aggressiveness" shown by the new zen. But still, sales does increase and the zen again averages about 5,000 units per month.

2004-The declining period of Fiat and the emergence of a new segment to getz you here, there and everywhere...

While the 2004 auto expo had nothing new to offer except some new midsizers and the display of Indigo marina,and a couple of new Hyundai cars, the small car market was again dull.
In the first 6 months, no new small cars were launched but Maruti earlier did launch a new LXi version of alto called alto spin with EPS at 3,19,000 ex-Delhi and after that, the sales of alto touched new heights and it was on its way to become the number one bestseller, stealing the crown from M800.
The war between the Santro and Wagon r continued in full swing with cut throat competition and counter attack ads being published at the newspapers.

Tata, too launches its face lifted Indica at auto expo 2004 in January with improved exteriors and interior fit, finish and features.Sales remain consistent at 7,500-8,000 units IIRC.

Fiat, whose palio sales hit an all time low, finally launched a significantly re engineered version of the palio-called the Palio NV.
  • 4 versions in 1.2-EL, EL PS, ELX and sport were launched.
  • improvements in engine an exhausts to increase mileage at the cost of performance
  • rear suspension made stiffer
  • Rs. 4,000 price increase.
  • alloys added to sport and made optional on 1.9 D ELX.
  • SP models of 1.6 and 1.9 discontinued.
  • 1.6 GTX phased out for time being.
A new commercial, quite gimmickry, was aird where a palio is on an expedition and a man driving the palio shows a cigar lighter at a petrol pump, wanting a fuel of just Rs. 2.

The slogan is: "Great Mileage. Great Looks. Great news."
Despite this, the sales are still just flat.

Meanwhile, in September 2004, Hyundai pioneers the new supermini segment, called the B plus segment and launches the getz, positioned between the santro and accent.
  • launched in 3 variants, GL, GLS and GLS with ABS
  • prices are 4,50,000, 4,75,000 and 5,29,000 respectively.
It is aimed at those people who want all the power,space comfort and features of a sedan but without that all important-large boot. Its 1.3 litre accent based engine was refined and mileage was also decent.
Despite the positive reviews and being awarded as the "car of the year 2005", sales are lackluster at best as people perceive it to be overpriced and some cars like esteem and ikon now selling at rock bottom prices, it doesn't solidify its case either.

On the other hand, the NHC is still enjoying its first full year of record breaking sales and waiting period is still at 2 months.

As 2004 nears its end,

2005 promises to be the year of twists and turns, the war of ugly truths and true lies, and an unexpected star will be born which is unlike anything we have ever seen or heard before and its success will shock the compact car market, and will rock the entire Indian automobile industry to its core.

Wanna know about it? Find out in part 13, coming up next.
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