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Old 21st April 2010, 12:25   #1
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Default The 20 lakh rupee Game-Changers!

"Game-changing : Completely changing the way that something is done, thought about, or made" (Macmillan Dictionary).

We've often seen cars at the lower end of the food chain, that have revolutionised the dynamics of a particular market segment. Take the Tata Nano which has single-handedly created a lower entry point to new car ownership, or the Hyundai i20's way of redefining premium hatches in India (quite successfully so too, at 4,000 averaged sales per month) or the Qualis / Innova siblings that have changed the way we view, perceive and use utility vehicles.

Conversely, the other end of the market hasn't seen any cars that have shaken up the very foundation of the luxury segment. Whatever cars cost over 20 lakh were rather predictable (Accord, Passat, Camry, C Class etc.)...predictable in what they delivered, market performance, pricing and so on.

Until now, that is. The last 12 months have seen the launch of three key 20 lakh rupee cars that have raised the benchmarks, and redefined the definition of value in their respective segments.

Presenting The Rs. 20 Lakh Game Changers
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Old 21st April 2010, 12:25   #2
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Skoda Superb
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Starts at 18.28 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi)

Effect on the segment & competition:
  • Monthly average = 264 units. Relative to the previous generation Skoda Superb, this current gen sells 6X - 10X more, month after month.
  • Snatched the "No.1 selling 20 lakh sedan" title from the Honda Accord.
How did it change the game?
  • Rs. 40 lakh luxury for Rs. 20 lakhs. Literally.
  • Limousine-like rear bench space.
  • Loaded with equipment that could put the Merc C Class & BMW 3 series to shame. Even the entry-level E Class & 5 series cannot match the tech.
  • India's first direct-injection turbo petrol mated to a sweet 7 speed DSG slushbox. This month sees the introduction of a common-rail diesel engine too.
Should watch out for:
  • The worst after-sales reputation in the country. Devils for dealers.
  • Reliability concerns, especially with DSG gearbox, air-conditioner & electricals.
  • Diesel Honda Accord in the pipeline. Locally assembled Nissan Teana too. Cut-price BMW 3 series & Mercedes C Class.

Last edited by GTO : 4th May 2010 at 12:33.
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Old 21st April 2010, 12:26   #3
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Toyota Fortuner
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Starts at 19.35 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi)

Effect on the segment & competition:
  • Monthly average = About 700 units. The best selling automobile, costing over 10 lakh rupees, in March 2010 @ 1,095 Fortuners sold! Outsold even the Altis that costs 1/2 as much.
  • Usually sells about 2.5 times more than nearest competitor, the Ford Endeavour.
  • Forced the Endeavour, Captiva and Pajero to slash their prices overnight.
How did it change the game?
  • Classic Toyota body-on-frame SUV traits. Robust, durable and tough as nails.
  • An all-rounded SUV.
  • Market has always perceived Toyota SUVs very highly (thanks to Prados & Landcruisers).
  • Appeals to the urban crowd, as well as rich rural. You can find one in Cuffe Parade, with the same likelihood as in a Nasik backlane.
Should watch out for:
  • Utilitarian "Innova-like" interiors. Bumpy ride quality.
  • Bad brakes. No discs at the rear.
  • Skoda Yeti, diesel Grand Vitara & CRV, the next generation Ford Endeavour, 25 lakh rupee BMW X1, locally built Nissan X-Trail.

Last edited by GTO : 21st April 2010 at 12:29.
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Old 21st April 2010, 12:30   #4
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BMW 320d Corporate Edition
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Starts at 23.95 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi)

Effect on the segment & competition:
  • Volumes instantly shot up by 2 - 2.5 times as much. March sales at a whopping 298 cars, compared to 90 C-Class' and 86 Audi A4s sold.
  • Forced Mercedes to launch their own cut-price "executive edition" C Class (Linky.
How did it change the game?
  • Slashed prices to a level that is nearly Rs. 10 lakh cheaper than the highline variant. Topped it up with bargain basement loan interest rates. BMW ads now claim a down payment of a mere "Rs. 2.95 lakhs"!
  • Useful equipment still there, what's removed is not really missed.
  • Stunning diesel engine, dynamics & driving experience.
  • Industry-leading all inclusive maintenance packages (that extend to a 5 year / 100,000 km coverage).
Should watch out for:
  • Un-luxurious ride quality.
  • Cramped rear seat.
  • Cut-price versions of the C Class and A4. Also, cars like the Skoda Superb from a segment below.

Last edited by GTO : 21st April 2010 at 12:36.
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Old 21st April 2010, 13:09   #5
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As always GTO, your write-ups are a treat. Mostly would agree with you on the game changers you have mentioned.

However, I have my reservations against Fortuner. Think of it, in its segment, Fortuner has nothing additional to offer vis a vis the competition (Captiva - ACC, all 4-discs, AT at the same price point; Endy - 4 airbags and AT again, not to mention other bells and whistles).

But yes, Fortuner has been a runaway success story simply because of Indian market's fixation/obsession with Toyota xUVs. Not unjustified though, because of the bullet proof reliability coupled with fab resale these xUVs have offered in past.

Yes, Fortuner sure has been a game changer, only so far as setting the sales charts on fire is concerned. If you ask me, IMHO, not a VFM proposition.

Last edited by AlokSriva : 21st April 2010 at 13:13.
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Old 21st April 2010, 13:12   #6
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I agree GTO,

Throw in the fact that the Superb and Passat now come with 6 speed manuals, and I feel we are going to see several more Superb/Passat purchases per month.
I know that most people buying these cars want the AT boxes, but, there are also luxury enthusiast lovers that will now be tempted by the Passat in particular.
I hope that Audi and BMW follow suit as well. (highly unlikely)

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Old 21st April 2010, 13:17   #7
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Good stuff GTO. I think the real game changer here is the Beemer. The long term after effects on the luxury car market will be wide ranging if they persist with this strategy of effectively tapping the lower end of the luxury car market.
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Old 21st April 2010, 13:51   #8
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Definitely GTO , you have touched an excellent topic. All these cars have indeed changed the game plan of all the cars at the top. These cars also denote the trend people buying more and more high end cars in INDIA.
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Old 21st April 2010, 13:56   #9
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he he he , how does these things comes to the mind to start a thread like this ? wonderfull !!!
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Old 21st April 2010, 14:44   #10
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You can add the C class Corporate Edition also to the list. Mercedes is feeling the heat already! 298 3 series cars, compared to 90 C-Class!
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Old 21st April 2010, 14:47   #11
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This is OT, but this thread made me think of the other side of the coin- the biggest scr.ew up in the 20L range- the Honda CRV!!
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Old 21st April 2010, 14:59   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlokSriva View Post
As always GTO, your write-ups are a treat. Mostly would agree with you on the game changers you have mentioned.

However, I have my reservations against Fortuner. Think of it, in its segment, Fortuner has nothing additional to offer vis a vis the competition (Captiva - ACC, all 4-discs, AT at the same price point; Endy - 4 airbags and AT again, not to mention other bells and whistles).

But yes, Fortuner has been a runaway success story simply because of Indian market's fixation/obsession with Toyota xUVs. Not unjustified though, because of the bullet proof reliability coupled with fab resale these xUVs have offered in past.

Yes, Fortuner sure has been a game changer, only so far as setting the sales charts on fire is concerned. If you ask me, IMHO, not a VFM proposition.
+1.

Fortuner has been a runaway success, but I am not sure if it fits GTO's own definition of a game-changer. Road-presence is where the Fortuner beats the competition hollow. And I guess this is a large factor in its popularity.

Sub-25L BMW 320d is surely the effect of competition (although with BSI the price will be closer to 30L). What is remarkable is that this has been achieved without compromising on the safety features, which are usually the first features to be axed in cheaper variants of most cars. In that respect, 320d is surely a game changer.

The Skoda Superb is the true game changer among the cars listed. GTO's description of "How did it change the game" is spot on. Unfortunately, we are yet to see others following suit.
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Old 21st April 2010, 15:08   #13
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The fact that Skoda Superb has topped the sales charts even with a bad dealer and support feedback from many owners, speaks volumes of the product offering. Wonder why cant some manufacturers learn from the success of others and use that to their advantage. Like if someone offers a superb value in the 10-11 lacs segment, one that can match the feature offerings of a 14-15 lacs car, it will bring that much awaited choice to the buyer who has nothing else than Honda City to choose from!!
I think Honda needs to wake up and be on their toes, accord diesel may bring them on par in that segment.
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Old 21st April 2010, 15:08   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imp! View Post
Throw in the fact that the Superb and Passat... I know that most people buying these cars want the AT boxes
Is there not a Passat version that retails for about 20L?

Well it does not offer the same level of comfort or is not as well appointed as the Superb but we hope that VW's after sales service learns from Skoda's mistakes.

Is not Hyundai intending to offer a new Sonata in 2010-2011?

Last edited by navin : 21st April 2010 at 15:12.
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Old 21st April 2010, 15:11   #15
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Agree with GTO on all cars except Fortuner. I believe the SUV is overrated considering the ride and interiors. A 20 lakh SUV which have similar interiors as an Innova is not a Game Changer but the premium is simply for the brand. But new age Toyota is not as good as the die hard, sturdy, reliable vehicles they used to make.
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