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Old 23rd January 2010, 13:11   #46
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(from here, major weightage in writeup will be given to small cars and hatchbacks only. Other launches will be covered only in points)

The new millenium-2000
K Dominates the entertainment industry as a new star is born..

The year 2000 proved to be a landmark year for Bollywood and the Indian entertainment industry.

Blockbuster number 1: Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai

See this:

and this:

This movie became the biggest blockbuster of year 2000, directed by Rakesh Roshan and introduced a new superstar son, Hrithik Roshan with Amisha Patel. It made Hrithik a superstar overnight and the nation went crazy over him. Many cars were playing the "Ek pal ka jeena song", which was a smash hit that time.

Blockbuster number 2: Kaun Banega Crorepati

July 2000. A unique Game show, the Indian version of who wants to be a millionaire. Hosted by Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, it becomes another blockbuster in the Indian TV history, catapulting star plus into the number one slot.

Blockbuster number 3: Kyonki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi

Ekta kapoor's K-badged show was Asia's #1 Most Watched and Awarded show. It was a Hindi television Indian Soap Opera, produced by Balaji Telefilms that revolves around the lives of the fictitious Virani family.
The show had been the longest running serial in Indian Television.

The show was about the female protagonist Tulsi a simple girl who falls in love with the eldest son of the wealthy Virani family Mihir. The two get married in spite of initial opposition from mihir's mother. The first generation was all about how Tulsi wins over different members of the family. Subsequent leaps followed the attempts of Tulsi to keep her family united as different people tried to create rifts in her family for different reasons.

Blockbuster number 4: Kahaani Ghar Ghar ki

Ekta kapoor's second K-badged show was Asia's #2 Most Watched and Awarded show.

But, behind all these,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.
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, made available in LEi and LXi models with 75 bhp 1400 cc motor.

The action, meanwhile hots up at the midsize segment as the following cars are launched:
  • opel corsa 1.4 and 1.6
  • ford ikon 1.3
  • fiat siena 1.6
  • Honda facelifts the City with new front and rear ends, engine remains 1.3 and 1.5 petrols
  • Maruti launches its salvo at midsize segment, the baleno 1.6
Mercedes Benz meanwhile upgrades it W210 E class with a facelift and introduces the common rail direct injection diesel for the first time.
  • E 240
  • E 220 CDI
In the MUV segment,
  • Toyota announces its entry into India with its QUALIS MPV, powerd by 2.4 L diesel motor in FS, GS and GST models.
  • Mahindra facelifts armada and relaunches as bolero
  • tata launches turbocharged sumo deluxe.
Meanwhile, 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 compact car wars.

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

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Last edited by sidindica : 23rd January 2010 at 13:30.
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Old 23rd January 2010, 13:37   #47
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"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 soon as behind the scenes, a all new segment will be created...
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Last edited by sidindica : 23rd January 2010 at 13:42.
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Old 23rd January 2010, 14:08   #48
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A new luxury segment is created but the small car wars continue as..

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.

2001 was also a landmark in the auto industry as a new entry and executive luxury segment was created in the price band of 11-20 lakhs with launches of:
  • Honda's second Indian offering, the 2.4 accord MT and AT
  • Hyundai's third model, the Sonata 2.0L GLS and Gold
  • Skoda's maiden blockbuster, the octavia 2.0 and 1.9 TDi ambiente, which marked the budget VW group's entry into India, it was this product that changed the market dynamics of the luxury car market.
Now while 2001 was ending and 2002 draws near,a new Indian superstar will be born.
But 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?
Attached Thumbnails
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Revisiting the Indian automobile Industry: Past, Present and future-hondaaccord_sedan_2001_1024x768_wallpaper_02.jpg  

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Old 23rd January 2010, 14:47   #49
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The small car wars see another victim and action continues at the other end of the spectrum.

The luxury segment some other launches:
  • The US bestseller, the 2002 Toyota Camry 2.4.
  • The European blue oval's superstar, the Ford Mondeo, in 2.0 petrol and 2.0 diesel models in Ghia trim.
  • Skoda launches its elegence trim of the octavia.
  • Hyundai launches its Sonata 2.7 V6
In the midsize segment, more action takes place:
  • Opel launches corsa royale
  • Hyundai Launches Accent tornado and 5 door semi notchback viva, in 1.6 16V DOHC motor
  • Ford Launches 1.6 IKON SXi
  • Fiat launches its redesigned palio-nosed siena, in 1.2 EX, 1.6 EL, ELX and maestro trim levels.
Meanwhile, in july 2002, Mahindra launches its new model in 50 years-the SCORPIO and prices it aggressively. Immediately the bookings ae huge and ait list is about 12-14 weeks.

Sach mein, is scorpio naam ke bichcho nein sab ko kaat khaya hai.
It asks other cars, whats your rashee?

They all wimp, because Mahindra says that nothing else will do.

The small car wars intensify as The easy car to drive just got a lot easier, palio gets polio'd of negative perception while the zen gets upgraded too.

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 Sachin autographed limited edition palio 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 more 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 that's quite easily the easiest car to drive.

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 next about it...

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Old 23rd January 2010, 15:52   #50
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OMG, very wonderful and informative thread, thanks a ton Sidindica and Happy birthday as well.
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Old 23rd January 2010, 16:26   #51
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Hi its indeed a great article, will give a detailed appreciation once yuou finish it fully,

Anyway, let me guess if you were in 12th for 2002 then you should be 25 years now on your today's birthday. Am I right?

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Old 23rd January 2010, 17:12   #52
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Sid, You always give us some surprise and this time it's a huge one but a collection of memories.
Good write up!
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Old 23rd January 2010, 19:02   #53
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Amazing thread this one. Loved every bit of it, reliving history indeed...
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Old 23rd January 2010, 19:08   #54
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This is probably the most informative piece i have read in this forum.

To understand how our industry has changed you just need to notice this... till the 2000s you can pretty much wrap a decade in one paragraph.. but from there its almost like every year needs almost that much space to describe
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Old 23rd January 2010, 19:18   #55
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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.

2000-2004 saw some of the biggest sporting extravaganzas like:
  • Millennium's first Olympics at Sydney, 2000
  • 2004 Olympics at Athens, Greece
  • FIFA world cup in Korea/Japan
  • world cup cricket, 2003, South Africa
More events:
  • The Indian Film industry received a major boost when "Lagaan" was nominated for the oscars in 2002.
  • 2001 produced major biggies-Lagaan and Gadar, followed by Dil chahta hai as Hrithik's career continued downward spiral by Yaadein disaster, later saved by Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham.
  • 2001 shocked the world with 9/11 attacks and December 13 Indian Parliament attack.
  • 2002 saw Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam sworn in as "People's President".
  • 2004 also saw new Lok Sabha elections in which UPA government led by Congress scored absolute majority and Dr. Manmohan Singh was sworn in as the Prime Minister.
Some launches:
  • 2003, Honda launched 3 cars-the redesigned accord, the CR-V and the redesigned, practical 1.5 IDSi city.
  • 2004, Fiat discontinued the siena and adventure and re-launched the siena as the petra in 1.6 and 1.9 diesel.
  • Ford gave the ikon a thorough makeover and launched as the ikon nxt in 1.3 and 1.6 rocam and 1.8 diesel.
  • Toyota launched the corolla 1.8 and Land cruiser prado 4.0 petrol
  • Mitsubishi launched the pajero 2.8 and pajero 3.2 CBU.
  • Hyundai forayed into entry luxury segment with the elantra in May 2004 with 1.8 petrol and 2.0 crdi
  • 2003 marked the comeback of Chevrolet brand with 2 launches-Forester 2.0 petrol and optra 1.8 and 1.6 petrol.
  • Skoda launched its superb in 2004 with Octavia Laurin and Klement.
  • Nissan marked its entry into our country with the X-trail 2.2 DCi.
  • Audi made an entry in fall 2004 with the launch of A8 4.2 and 3.0 TDi and TT 1.8. A6 was launched soon after in 3.0 petrol.
  • Mercedes launched the W220 S class facelift, all new W211 E class, SLK, SL, CLS and M class in these years.
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.

find out more about it, up next.
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Old 23rd January 2010, 22:02   #56
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The new look Zen never had the charisma or the presence of the original Zen. It was no longer youthful and had become a sort of droopy eyed oldy.
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Old 23rd January 2010, 22:12   #57
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Last December, one day after Christmas, a deadly Tsunami struck more than 11 nations across south east Asia as a result of mega thrust Indian Ocean Earth Quake killing more than 2,75,000 people and shaking the whole planet violently.



Ford's con-fusion fails to make any impact as manufacturers gear up to meet Euro 3 deadlines while maruti swift-ly proclaims-you are the fuel.

2005 starts with a disappointment when ford launches the country's first urban activity vehicle-the FUSION. It is launched last December, but deliveries start this year. Ford's pricing of 6,20,000-7,30,000 makes it out of reach of anyone and whatever Ford calls it, either a city SUV or an UAV or else, the product is a monumental disaster with fewer than 300-400 unit selling.

Hyundai Getz is proclaimed as 2005 ACI COTY and after that, sales do start to pick up and hover around 1500 units per month, but still lacklustre at best.

The Indian television entertainment industry prepares for a new mania-the musical reality shows, especially Indian Idol 1 VS Sa Re Ga Ma Pa challenge 2005

The budget brings cheer to automakers when Mr. P Chidambaram, the finance minister, announces excise cut for small cars that are no longer than 4000 m in length and whose engine capacities may not exceed 1200 cc for petrol, and 1500 cc for diesel.

This marks the beginning of the Indian Market definition of small car, that many manufacturers have to adhere it to to remain competitive and earn more volumes.

As the deadline looms, manufacturers hurry to comply with the new norms.

Some highlights:
  • Tata motors adds an intercooler to its TD motors of Indigo and Marina, and calls it TDi.
  • Santro epsilon motor is heavily upgraded and called e-rlx with the addition of aluminum cylinder head and block and a roller bearing camshaft.
  • scorpio 2.6 crde becomes the country's first indigeniously developed and manufactured common rail diesel powered vehicle.
  • Safari gets its first facelift and a 2956 cc dicor motor to compl with the new norms.
  • Common rail technology becomes almost common on most automobiles sold here.
  • Maruti upgrades all is petrol motors with a 32 bit ECM, diesel versions of zen and esteem phased out.
  • Ford Ikon diesel 1.8 phased out.
INNOVA-TIVE launch by Toyota
  • February 2005 witnessed Toyota replacing one of its blockbuster products-qualis with another, the IMV platform INNOVA. Bookings open, and the product is s smash hit.
  • 4500 units sell per month and it becomes a segment best seller.
  • meanwhile camry gets a facelift and an automatic transmission option.
Other launches:
  • Honda launched the Accord V6 the country's most powerful luxury saloon.
  • Porsche, bentley and lamborghini make Indian entry with 911, boxster, cayenne, Arnage, Gallardo and Murceilago all making Indian debuts following Government's plan to scrap homologation for cars costing above $ 40,000.
  • Tata Launched the Indigo Marina last September.
  • Fiat Re-Launched the adventure 1.6 in BS-3 in july 2005, at a reduced price and labelled it as adventure sport.
  • Tata Sumo gets a facelift, renamed Victa.
  • Opel Vectra, launched in January 2003, is on the verge of extincton.
Ford's Fiesty Fiesta:
  • After IKON, the company's second made-for-India, Fiesta is commercially launched in November 2005 featuring 1.4 petrol, 1.6 petrol and 1.4 TDCi diesel. Bookings open and the car is an immediate success.
  • The mondeo gets a minor nip and tuck and relaunched, only to be phased out next year due to poor sales.
OPEL brand= RIP, replaced by Chevrolet in the coming months. More on that later.

HOWEVER, 2005 witnessed a sensational launch by the empire-

  • Launched with 1.3 Altec 32 motor from Esteem, in LXi, VXi and ZXi versions, priced from 3,87,000 onwards.
  • ZXi model first compact car in class to get dual airbags and automatic climate control.
  • records 21,000 bookings in one week itself.
  • Is the car for India's new young generation, with all traditional maruti values.
  • Spicey colours like green, orange, beam blue and red add to the appeal.
  • futuristic concept car design and superb handling from rally based chassis made it an instant hit with the tuning community as well.
  • prices hiked by 12,000 after bookings.
The car's release coincides with a blockbuster release-Bunty aur Babli and this song is shown below:


However, Hyundai is pissed off with the tremendous response and in a controversial move, starts issuing pamphlets to dealers proclaiming "Xing ahead of the swift" and it attacked the car as being just bigger than the santro and being higher priced and of being powered by a "dated versa motor", also this terrifies Maruti and it goes on to sue Hyundai for malpractices under the MRTPC act.

Meanwhile, the swift continues to sell well and the getz, already a sales dud, is affected even further. to counter this, Hyundai launches a stripped down model of the getz, the GLE, priced at 4,15,000 rupees. It renames all models to GVS, GLS and GLX respectively.
So, this new "premium hatch" segment witness intense rivalries between Maruti and Hyundai.

This brochure war continues as usual, and sometimes things can take an ugly turn for granted. Though the swift is attacked even by tata, as being overpriced and less spacious, it continues to sell at around 3,500-4,000 units per month and the owners absolutely love it.

Diesel Re-energized.

To counter swift threat, tata tells that enough is enough and launches more power per car in the for of Indica Turbo in DLG and DLX models, powered by TDI motor from the indigo, positioned as a cut price performance alternative to the swift. Sales are good, but not appealing to the consumer segment that it addresses to.

City facelift

The midsize segment witnesses Honda giving the NHC a major facelift and re-launching as the City ZX, also adding for the first time, the high powered VTEC motor to bring back some soul to the car that was criticised for dull driving experiance. Some chassis tweaks are also made.

As 2005 ends, 2006 will bring back some action to the dull Indian car market as a brand plans to make a dramatic comeback at the cost of other, and sadly, a legend will die forever....

Which legend? Find out next...
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Old 24th January 2010, 00:45   #58
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Hi Sid, way to go. I have been reading team bhp posts with interest for the past 8 months. This is the first post I am reading as a member though. Way to go Sid, 85 born - you sound older though. A fantastic narration of automotive history. I was part of the Hyundai rolling into India and it is only as I read this post I realize the year and how time has flown by. Keep it rolling
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Old 24th January 2010, 08:20   #59
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Great going Sid. I have learnt a lot today and will never forget about this post forever in my life. What a moment ...and thanks for flashing the stories which will remain with me forever..
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Old 24th January 2010, 08:31   #60
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Although I am not a big fan of your narratives (to gimmicky for my tastes), I loved the finer details that I picked up while going through this thread. Please don't mind the criticism, that's just personal choice; I am sure plenty of people love this style of narration and we are obviously richer as a forum because of your contributions.

OT: What caught my attention was that your English has improved by leaps and bounds over the two and a half years(or so) of posting (proliferous). I feel that teambhp is responsible for a tangible improvement in our linguistic abilities; it's quite simply gives us a motive to write and since sms-ey language is forbidden, makes us better writers.
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