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Old 23rd January 2011, 08:47   #61
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Default Re: Why do diesel engine variants get step-motherly treatment from manufacturers?

This is a bit OT but there is some justification so I ve plugged it here.

There is a "laissez faire" "chalta hai' attitude from the manufacturers. One hopes as the international companies keep coming in and offering more and more to our consumers, our own indigenous manufacturers will be forced to upgrade and change their attitudes.

Recently in a conversation with M&M I asked them why they cannot offer 4WD, choice of vehicle colour and the essential safety features in the lower end models of Scorpio/Bolero - or at least offer the option of functional customization on order, have a reasonable waiting period and a fair charge for the extra features as requested.

After all we know that in order to meet their export demand and to conform to international standards, they do have the capability of making practically any variant of their vehicles.

We have it on good authority that their basic vehicles which are sold in certain parts of the world, come with manual or electric 4WD and with ABS, Airbags etc because these are the requirements. If they can serve these needs already and there is no technological limitation in them doing so, then why not offer them to us too?

For example as I ve said elsewhere on this forum, I want a simple 4WD Scorpio with ABS, EBD and Airbags. Im not interested in the rubbish electronic gizmos and other nonsense they offer in their VLX version. The VLX version is merely a bling wagon calculated to appeal to a real estate monster, mining tycoon or a nasty politico or someone like that - not a regular joe like me who wants good quality, safety and functionality over anything else.

Their "stock" reply is that they are serving the needs of the market because they have mapped the market requirements by conducting research and following the order books of their dealers. In short, they "know" better than me, who is after all just a regular joe consumer.

In my opinion they are just LAZY to listen to consumer feedback and to make the necessary changes in their system. Their production and dealerships must be amongst the MOST CHANGE RESISTANT creatures in the world!

Now my submission is that when there are only a basic set of standard offerings at the dealers, then most consumers have no option but to buy whats on offer. Most people are in a hurry to get the new vehicle and perhaps dont stop to think before making demands. Or they fall prey to stupid salespeople and dealer executives who anyway dont know whats what.

Hence this creates a vicious cycle - M&M thinks they are doing absolutely right because whatever they are offering continues to sell. This has the disadvantage of never letting them see or understand the ever evolving/ changing needs of the market place. I would think that if their Marketing chaps had any sense, they would read these comments from consumers in places like TBHP and actually DO something.

Trouble is that they are more of a production set up + dealer led organization - they need to become a consumer led organization and this is really a LONG way off!!

As the country grows and evolves it is only a matter of time before essential safety features on passenger vehicles become mandatory - like the way seat belts did, around 10 years ago. In some years time it will be necessary for all vehicles to have ABS, EBD and Airbags along with seat belts. I suppose I shall realize my requirement from M&M only then!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chetan_Rao View Post
Most manufacturers just depend on the ignorant section of their customer base (which unfortunately is a majority) to sell inferior products. Diesel engines are more complex and cost more to manufacture, but not to the levels that can justify charging a hefty premium on the car, and still providing a relatively stripped down version. But most customer's don't question that.

Moreover, in a VFM-quotient driven market like India, a manufacturer knows that if he offers an option between a music system and ABS/Airbags, 9/10 customers will not blink twice before taking the music system.

Most small and medium-size cars sell most in their middle variants (irrespective of fuel-type), and even customers who buy the 'fully-loaded' one, rarely do it for the safety bits.

The customer base needs to change its approach, and the manufacturers will fall in line if they want to survive. But that seems to be distant dream.

Last edited by shankar.balan : 23rd January 2011 at 08:49.
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Old 23rd January 2011, 15:20   #62
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The reasons have been well covered already by previous posters, and the answer is, most likely, economics. The reasons are many, right from the higher cost of producing diesel engines on account of more complex systems (like turbochargers), more sturdy materials (due to higher compression ratios) or higher tolerances (injectors required to work at much higher pressure as compared to petrol engines). Once you end up with a more expensive engine, the effort would automatically be on finding areas where costs can be cut. Now in the cost competitive world of the A and B segmenters, no matter what we bhpians would want to see, the truth is people are not willing to pay high prices. I was recently surprised to learn that the highest version of the i10 (manual) is not available with dealers and has to be built on order as there isn't sufficient demand for it. Now this is a car which sells 14000 units each month and a market - Delhi, which is probably the largest in the country.
Without people ready to fork out extra for the highest end models, I can see why manufacturers choose to keeps models basic. After all, each variant costs a lot of money to keep on, right from the additonal working capital required to maintain inventory of those items, to the cost added to logistics because of one more version which has to be kept track of (multiply the number of variants by the color choices to get an idea of the actual nos. that must be built and shipped). So, to prevent the additional hassle, and the resultant cost, manufacturers choose not to build these niche variants in the first place.
This regretably results in safety features being left out of certain models. This is one for the government to take care of. Before seatbelts were made mandatory by regulations, manufacturers like Maruti skimped on providing them. It's a crying shame that we don't have basic crash safety norms in place, in a country where more people die in accidents on roads than anywhere else. If these were to put into place, I'm sure that certain features like airbags/ abs would become mandatory or at least an atmosphere more acceptant of safety features would result. Until then, our wallets would do the talking, and they don't seem to be shouting out loud enough for more features on diesel hatches.
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Old 24th January 2011, 09:00   #63
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Default Re: Why do diesel engine variants get step-motherly treatment from manufacturers?

I think that the reason is nothing but cost effectiveness. Though almost every magazine only road tests the top end model with all the bells and whistles, the reality is that there is only a small percentage of buyers who opt for the top end version. Try to count how many ZXi or Aura+ models you can spot compared to the Lxi/VXi/Aqua/Aura. Most buyers choose the base model and then add on the features they think they need (Central locking, alarm, reversing aids, stereo, power windows), which will end up costing a lot less than if they'd bought the model with the same stuff factory-fitted. And even if they opt for the higher end models, it's usually for merely aesthetic reasons, like alloys or better interiors or more gadgets, and rarely for safety aids like ABS/Airbags. Most of the top end models are bought by really rich guys who buy them simply because they are the most expensive. Even sales staff discourage prospective customers from choosing the top-end variant, assuring the customer that it is 'not needed', mostly because they hardly ever have the top-end models in stock. And customers are easily swayed when they find that they can get something from a higher segment or a better engine, for the same price as the top-end variant with ABS/Airbags. Case point being, Swift Zxi vs VDi, which cost almost the same, or the Estilo VXi ABS vs Swift LXi.

I think that ABS/Airbags should at least be an option if not standard on every variant offered and not just the top end ones. A good way for the government to promote these features would be waive the duties/taxes on the safety related hardware, and for insurance companies to offer discounts if your car has safety features. An awareness campaign to educate lay-folk about the benefits of safety features would also help greatly, like TV ads.

The only way an average Indian consumer will buy something more expensive is if it offers exceptional VFM, be it in the way of reduced running costs or service costs.
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Old 24th January 2011, 13:33   #64
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Default Re: Why do diesel engine variants get step-motherly treatment from manufacturers?

I am not sure about other markets, but in India, cars do not sell on a 'Cost plus' basis. They sell on the perceived value to the customer.

The difference between our (BHPians) perception and that of the majority of car buyers goes like this:

Market:
Value of diesel advantage = additional purchase price + value of Airbags, ABS, additional creature comforts etc[miniscule]

BHPians:
Value of diesel advantage = additional purchase price

This is because the market values Airbags, ABS and additional creature comforts at a much lesser value than we do. That is the reason why people like us feel shortchanged once Airbags and ABS are taken out of the diesel variants while the market does not bother too much.

Bottom Line: the key driver for pricing diesels higher, and stripping them down is the estimated value of diesel advantage, and not purely cost. Manufacturers are judging the market correctly, IMO

Last edited by vipul_singh : 24th January 2011 at 13:37.
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Old 24th January 2011, 14:59   #65
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Default Re: Why do diesel engine variants get step-motherly treatment from manufacturers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fornax View Post
Its' quite likely that some of the premium parts may not survive the constant clatter of a diesel engine
Now, be honest : Which manufacturer did you hear this from . C'mon, it's a ridiculous statement to make.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vignesh_ny View Post
Most companies would've come up with this decision based on Market Research, which would have shown the mass mentality and lack of understanding of safety.
To a large extent, agreed. And this is where the errant manufacturers need to wake up & smell the coffee : More Indians die of road accidents than cancer each year. I can understand making, selling & servicing cars is their primary purpose. But what does it do to your image? Do you have any social responsibility? How on earth can Nissan justify removing the ABS from a 7 lakh rupee hatchback that's powered by an age-old diesel engine? It's because of this "cheap" attitude that Maruti is unable to sell any car that costs over 8 lakh rupees.

I reiterate : Full marks to the Europeans (Fiat, Ford, VW, Skoda etc.) for selling their diesel & petrol products in the exact same trim. Safety kit included.
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Old 24th January 2011, 15:12   #66
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Default Re: Why do diesel engine variants get step-motherly treatment from manufacturers?

what about dear old Hyundai? even theyve been selling variants of their cars with all safety kit and at pretty good prices.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
I reiterate : Full marks to the Europeans (Fiat, Ford, VW, Skoda etc.) for selling their diesel & petrol products in the exact same trim. Safety kit included.
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Old 24th January 2011, 15:13   #67
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Default Re: Why do diesel engine variants get step-motherly treatment from manufacturers?

I remember a very similar thread that i started a year ago about the same step-step motherly treatment (yes they are terrible!!) for diesel buyers by maruti suzuki. Though that thread ended up facing the moderation sword I find it interesting that we have atleast now started realising the fact that there indeed is a step motherly treatment.

Its not just about safety features there are quite a long list of basic features that they skimp on just because they think the diesels engined variant would find a buyer in India.

If you really do a research you would realize that its the market leader that skimps the most. In business terms Its called make hay while the sun shines

Last edited by gemithomas : 24th January 2011 at 15:15.
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Old 24th January 2011, 15:24   #68
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Default Re: Why do diesel engine variants get step-motherly treatment from manufacturers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
what about dear old Hyundai? even theyve been selling variants of their cars with all safety kit and at pretty good prices.
Hyundai doesnt offer 6 airbags in the i20 CRDi but available in the petrol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
For example as I ve said elsewhere on this forum, I want a simple 4WD Scorpio with ABS, EBD and Airbags. Im not interested in the rubbish electronic gizmos and other nonsense they offer in their VLX version. The VLX version is merely a bling wagon calculated to appeal to a real estate monster, mining tycoon or a nasty politico or someone like that - not a regular joe like me who wants good quality, safety and functionality over anything else.

Their "stock" reply is that they are serving the needs of the market because they have mapped the market requirements by conducting research and following the order books of their dealers. In short, they "know" better than me, who is after all just a regular joe consumer.
I couldnt agree more. I have the same basic requirements but the VLX has too many features that I dont need for too much extra cost. The market is screaming for a small SUV with basic safety features (basic for me is Airbags + ABS). Perhaps we should go there in a group to tell them this is what we require!

Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
Hence this creates a vicious cycle - M&M thinks they are doing absolutely right because whatever they are offering continues to sell. This has the disadvantage of never letting them see or understand the ever evolving/ changing needs of the market place. I would think that if their Marketing chaps had any sense, they would read these comments from consumers in places like TBHP and actually DO something.
IMHO, they are smug in their sales numbers. However, if they only had one model priced around 8L without all the jazz (pun unintended) but with Airbags & ABS, it will take away a few confused buyers from the sedan market. I dont think it will cost them any more to have such a version, would it?
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Old 24th January 2011, 16:43   #69
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Default Re: Why do diesel engine variants get step-motherly treatment from manufacturers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vipul_singh View Post
I am not sure about other markets, but in India, cars do not sell on a 'Cost plus' basis. They sell on the perceived value to the customer.

The difference between our (BHPians) perception and that of the majority of car buyers goes like this:

Market:
Value of diesel advantage = additional purchase price + value of Airbags, ABS, additional creature comforts etc[miniscule]

BHPians:
Value of diesel advantage = additional purchase price

This is because the market values Airbags, ABS and additional creature comforts at a much lesser value than we do. That is the reason why people like us feel shortchanged once Airbags and ABS are taken out of the diesel variants while the market does not bother too much.

Bottom Line: the key driver for pricing diesels higher, and stripping them down is the estimated value of diesel advantage, and not purely cost. Manufacturers are judging the market correctly, IMO
I too think manufacturers are judging the market correctly.

Given that the market would not suddenly mature (i.e all users don't trim on safety), technology/innovation should help us.
Three innovation should make it possible
(1) Production line to be reprogrammed. The safety features could be added in the last minute, even to a ready to be shipped vehicle. (Not sure if this is possible now)
(2) The entire supply chain should trim down. The mean time between factory produce to customer hand should squeeze to 1 or 2 weeks. (just a blind ballpark number)
(3) Or Addon for safety features to be pushed to dealers (which I don't think is safe and possible).
(3a) If not dealer, all the manufactures (Japs, who don't offer them now), should setup a quick safety addon facility near the regional warehouse.


Anyone who know the numbers and possibility of the above 3/4 points?

Last edited by KumaravelS : 24th January 2011 at 16:53. Reason: made more readable
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Old 24th January 2011, 17:24   #70
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Default Re: Why do diesel engine variants get step-motherly treatment from manufacturers?

The thread is a clear indicator that the Japs/Koreans are the ones who treat the diesel engines differently. This could be because that the diesel technology of the Japs/Koreans are still not refined in comparison to their European counterparts. The Japs/Koreans are really good with their petrol engines and they are probably trying to draw more customers to their home ground (nobody likes to play "away" when given a choice).

I just wonder what Honda will do when they finally do launch a diesel variant (which is inevitable). We might end up with just seat belts which is standard and rest everything as an accessory (maybe even the choice of colour)
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Old 24th January 2011, 17:26   #71
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Default Re: Why do diesel engine variants get step-motherly treatment from manufacturers?

The only way is for their Senior Management to take a stand and make this happen. But they dont appear to have this on their priority list at all as of now.
Like I said I ve been in repeated correspondence with their senior people but all Ive got to show for it is a bunch of nice, polite emails with some pretty non-committal, stock kind of answers.
Im slowly getting quite sick of writing in and staying loyal to M&M. Will await some other nice product to be launched in the market and possibly migrate because this waiting game isnt much fun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by selfdrive View Post
I couldnt agree more. I have the same basic requirements but the VLX has too many features that I dont need for too much extra cost. The market is screaming for a small SUV with basic safety features (basic for me is Airbags + ABS). Perhaps we should go there in a group to tell them this is what we require!
IMHO, they are smug in their sales numbers. However, if they only had one model priced around 8L without all the jazz (pun unintended) but with Airbags & ABS, it will take away a few confused buyers from the sedan market. I dont think it will cost them any more to have such a version, would it?
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Old 24th January 2011, 18:00   #72
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Default Re: Why do diesel engine variants get step-motherly treatment from manufacturers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by selfdrive View Post
Hyundai doesnt offer 6 airbags in the i20 CRDi but available in the petrol.
But due credits to Hyundai for offering rear discs in the i20 CRDi. I think this is not their in the petrol and was added to handle the additional power of their diesel engine.

If I remember correctly when i20 CRDi was launched, ABS was also standard even in the Magna variant again for diesel alone (Please correct me if I am wrong on both these points).

Last edited by pacman2881 : 24th January 2011 at 18:03.
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Old 24th January 2011, 18:39   #73
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Default Re: Why do diesel engine variants get step-motherly treatment from manufacturers?

Let's face it guys. Diesel cars = value = savings. How many people buy a diesel for performance? Not many in India atleast.

Talk about safety to a guy who's prime goal is to save money. He's gonna get defensive and go on self denial mode i.e "I don't drive @ 120 KmpH and then stop suddenly that I need ABS; I don't use the seat belt itself and you are talking about airbags to me?"

Some manufactures are just taking this to their advantage. It's a free market, no one's forced to buy the Nissan dCI without safety features. The consious ones will just ignore the car. With respect to Nissan, well they have some bird brained people at Marketing & Sales Dept. That's about it.

P.S: What are the insurance companies doing by the way? Why not lesser premium for cars that are pedastrian safe (or whatever they call which makes some cars look wierd and ugly), loaded with ABS, Airbags etc.?

Last edited by kiku007 : 24th January 2011 at 18:42.
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Old 24th January 2011, 20:13   #74
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Default Re: Why do diesel engine variants get step-motherly treatment from manufacturers?

I think someone pointed this earlier in one of the posts on this thread, but it didn't become a point of discussion - or, is this something to be ignored? Nonetheless, bringing it up again.

European (punto, polo) and American (figo) petrol engines are not as good as Japanese (K series) and Korean (kappa) petrols. So, I guess European and American diesel cars are made more formidable by equipping them with all bells and whistles + safety features, with decent price tag? Otherwise, those diesels would also end up in the same state as petrols, sales wise?
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Old 25th January 2011, 02:32   #75
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Default Re: Why do diesel engine variants get step-motherly treatment from manufacturers?

@SMK_BLR: When you say that European petrol engines are 'not as good', what exactly do you mean? It's not really that the European engines aren't powerful, it's just that the cars themselves are more heavily built and weren't built for the small capacity motors that power them. Punto, Polo, Figo and the Fabia are the heaviest cars in their class. All of them come with higher capacity engines (except the Figo, for which a bigger engine is on the way) which completely transform them.

The point is that all these European cars offer all safety features on all the engine variants, be it petrol or diesel. The suggestion that the ABS/Airbags is not compatible with the diesel engine is simply absurd. MSIL has been selling the Dzire ZDi for years now.
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