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Old 2nd October 2018, 13:33   #1
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The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene

This thread has been jointly compiled with GTO. Thanks to him for the expert inputs!

All of us make mistakes; however, some are simply bigger than the others. On this thread, let's share the largest blunders made in the Indian auto industry. Some of these are simply unacceptable; the manufacturers should have known better.

@BHPians, please add to this list in your replies - thank you!

Tata Motor's Annual Report uses Mahindra Maxximo images!!

Seriously the blunder of blunders! Someone ought to have been fired over this. The 2010-11 Tata Motors annual report had a sketch of the Mahindra Maxximo on each & every page . How did this even get approved?
The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene-dscn7081.jpg

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Skoda's mismanaged dealerships

It is well-known that Skoda's dealerships suck. Issues range from outright fraud, replacing genuine parts with counterfeit ones, dealers shutting down after taking full payments, selling a 'fake' special edition and more. Skoda has not only recruited the wrong dealers, but it has also failed to manage (discipline?) them properly. Sad, because some of their cars are truly top class, but the rogue dealers & reputation keep customers away. After spending almost 2 decades in India, Skoda's monthly sales are a paltry 1,500 units or less:
The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene-1.jpg

A related thread (one of many): 1

Overpriced cars

Other than some luxury marques, no one can overprice cars in India. Here, 'value' sells (not cheap, as is commonly mistaken). Some of the more famous cars that flopped due to overpricing are the Toyota Yaris, Tata Aria, 1st-gen Honda Jazz, the last Ford Fiesta & more. The story of the Fiesta is worth telling. Ford had benchmarked its price against the Honda City. A handful of weeks prior to the Fiesta's launch, Honda slashed the City's prices. Ford, unfortunately, continued with the original pricing strategy & the car bombed upon launch:

Related thread: 1

Nissan outsourcing dealerships to Hover

When Nissan first entered India, they were too l-a-z-y to take the effort & develop their own dealership network. It's hard work, after all. So, they coolly outsourced the same to a 3rd-party - Hover Automotive. Well, that didn't end well. Customer service levels were horrible, dealers were up in arms and once refused to take new cars from the factory (related link). The marriage made in Nissan's heaven eventually ended in a divorce. This was an incredibly DUMB call by the Japanese:
The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene-old-vs-new2.jpg

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Honda cutting too many corners and compromising on build quality

At one time, Honda was the hallmark for quality. They might have been low on features, but the cars were niggle-free and ran almost forever (just ask any owner of the 1st-gen, 2nd-gen or 3rd-gen Citys). In the last 5 years however, Honda's gameplan changed. They cheapened their products to a level that left Honda loyalists shocked! Just take a look at the niggles reported in this thread. Honda is being penny-wise, pound-foolish and is only focusing on the short-term here. They are losing brand equity. Reuters even had a detailed article on the subject - link. In our honest opinion, Hyundai has long overtaken Honda in the quality standings:

The Renault Captur fiasco

This was just plain misleading of the customer. Although they look alike, Renault has two different versions of the Captur. One is called the Captur and is based on the modern Clio platform, while the other is called the Kaptur and is based on the old Logan / Duster platform. We get the Kaptur here, but Renault India decided to rebadge it as the Captur. That's still okay, but the real problem was their promotional activity including points from reviews + awards of the more modern Clio-based SUV:
The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene-screenshot_2017100222224576.jpg

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Ferrari, Porsche, Audi & Ducati partnering with a 'Chor' (thief)

All of the above-mentioned exotic marques fell for Ashish Chordia's glam & charm, awarding him importing rights, dealerships or both. A scammer to the bone, Chordia duped several customers of their money and is now absconding in the USA. Just wondering how neither of these brands kept a close eye on the dealership operations or performed any due diligence:
The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene-5bb56d3563ac4bc3a8361baeb1eeee9b.jpeg

Related threads: 1, 2, 3, 4

The Tata Nano's marketing blunder

'Cheap' doesn't sell in India. The 1-lakh car didn't realise it, and neither did Tata (add Datsun to the list too). GTO has neatly summed up the Nano's failure in 5 points in this post. A brilliant car with lots of intelligent packaging, but a miserable market failure. Man, this car had potential:

R.I.P. Maruti S-Cross 1.6L

Okay, this one is close to our heart. Maruti finally launches a car that has solid build quality, European road manners and a big, powerful diesel. BHPians loved it! Then, because of poor sales, Maruti discontinued the car. Come on, Maruti - haven't you heard of the halo effect? Earlier this year, there were reports of Maruti bringing the 1.6L S-Cross again. All we have is hope to cling on to:

Related news

Maruti's shaky, unrefined, tractor-like 2-cylinder diesel in a passenger car

GTO clearly didn't like the refinement of the 2-cylinder diesel engine when he first drove the Celerio diesel. It was also under-powered on the highway. This engine is best meant for commercial vehicles only. The noise from the twin-cylinder could actually be compared to that of tractors. The Celerio diesel was sensibly discontinued later as no one bought it. Maruti, we just hope your second attempt at building a diesel engine is better than the first. Until then, it's better you use the 1.3L MJD, as old as it may be:

Related Thread

Hyundai never offering sales support to its otherwise nice premium cars

Hyundai has been launching premium cars since the Sonata in 2001. However, it didn't bother supporting them and neither did its dealers care. Guess they missed the memo. Search through Team-BHP and you'll see several reports of test-drive cars of the Sonata, Santa Fe, Terracan etc. not being available. Heck, forget TD cars, most dealers didn't even have one on display!! This was a big problem with the latest Santa Fe which had potential, yet bombed due to a lack of presence in showrooms. Things have improved in the recent past as Hyundai realised "if Mahindra can sell a 15 - 20 lakh product, we can do better", but it's still not as good as it should be:

All the estates / station wagons launched in India

Station wagons won't ever sell in India as we're a very 'image conscious' society. They never have, they never will. Internationally too, the station wagon is dying (only a handful of places in Europe still buy them). Whoever launched a station wagon in India lost a lot of money on them. From the Maruti Baleno Altura & Octavia Combi to the Opel Corsa Swing & Indigo Marina, they all flopped in the Indian market. The Tata actually had a decent start due to its pricing, but interest quickly tapered off after owners realised that it looked ugly, they didn't really need that extra space & the air-con took longer to cool:
The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene-dsc00826_medium_marina.jpg

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Fiat's marital issues

Fiat had a lot of potential in India; believe it or not, the Uno still holds the record for the most number of bookings till date! However, the brand has a habit of cutting the branch that it sits on. First, it tied up with the incompetent PAL, which really was their biggest mistake. Then, Fiat had another wedding ceremony with Tata where it (optimistically) imagined Tata showrooms enthusiastically promoting Fiat cars too (Fiat models directly competed with Tata's). The Fiat brand is more or less dead today. Better they only focus on the sexy Jeep:

Related threads: 1, 2

Ford continuously changing its features & variants list

Where do I even start off on this one? It sure seems like, every morning, Ford India goes "okay, what features or variants are we juggling today?". Ford's constant shuffling around of features has begun to get really annoying. The latest victim is the EcoSport. When the S variant was launched, Ford removed TPMS and 17-inch rims from the Titanium Plus. This is just one example. The Endeavour has also seen innumerable changes to its variants (related thread). And let's not forget the furore that was caused when Ford deleted some EcoSport Titanium features within months of its launch:

Using the 'Indica' tag in the Vista

The Vista was a big, big step ahead of the original Indica (as was the Manza over the Indigo). Tata foolishly called it the 'Indica Vista', instead of just Vista. That automatically drove away private car owners as the 'Indica' had come to being associated with taxis and also had a terrible reputation for reliability. Would the Vista have done well without the Indica name tag? We think so. The layman didn't even think of the Indica Vista as an all-new car. Tata admitted its mistake & eventually dropped the Indica moniker, but it was too late. In the car industry, what you do at the time of the product launch is most important:

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Renault & Nissan's badge engineering gaffes

Renault & Nissan thought that it would be a good idea to re-badge some of their cars and sell them in separate showrooms. Well, no...the customer wasn't in agreement. The Duster sold well, but the Terrano didn't. The Sunny sold in some numbers for a while, but the Scala didn't. The Nissan Micra did too, but Pulse who? No one even remembers it. What's worse, in some cases, there were inexplicable pricing premiums added. This went on to confuse customers and badly hurt sales of the clone cars. At one point, the group had almost 15 cars on sale, but only 2 (or 3?) were actually selling:

Related threads: 1, 2

Peugeot running away from India, leaving many owners with non-refunded deposits

Back in the 90s, Peugeot left India. It was in such a hurry that it didn't even bother to return the booking deposits that customers had paid PAL-Peugeot for the 309. Now, Peugeot wants to return to our country. We're sure that a line of Indians will be waiting to 'welcome' them at the airport. After all, Indian customers have an elephant's memory, especially of brands that duped them. Peugeot destroyed its image in the world's no.4 car market due to a small amount of $$$ and lots of carelessness. In a bid to buy some 'reputation', Peugeot paid 80 crores for the Ambassador brand name (related news):
The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene-dsc00052.jpg

Related thread

Chevrolet exiting India

Is this one of the biggest mistakes Chevrolet made? India is a Top 4 car market in the world, and is only poised to grow due to our low car penetration levels. Position 3? Maybe. New brands like Kia and MG realise this and are planning big launches here. We feel that Chevrolet's exit was a short-sighted move just to please Wall Street. All they needed was some relevant products and a competent management to turn things around. Difficult yes, but not impossible. Just see how Tata Motors has remarkably improved its passenger car business that was in the doldrums not so far back:

Related thread

6-month warranty for the EVO X

This one seriously had us . Imagine spending 50 lakh rupees on a sports sedan, but only getting a measly 6-month warranty? My local pan-chewing audio shop owner gives a longer warranty on his in-house assembled devices. Shows just how out of tune HM-Mitsubishi was with the market. The duds knew absolutely NOTHING about selling cars:

Our Review

The ban on diesel engines larger than 2,000cc

This was a completely hare-brained decision. Back in 2015, the SC decided to ban diesel engines larger than 2,000cc in the Delhi-NCR region. The ban was eventually & sensibly revoked. But such reckless sudden decisions by the government scares the heck out of global car makers who start viewing India as an unstable market:

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Last edited by aah78 : 2nd October 2018 at 17:11. Reason: hair -> hare. ;)
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Old 2nd October 2018, 13:38   #2
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re: The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Indian Car Scene. Thanks for sharing!

Adding one more:

Toyota launching outdated hatchbacks & sedans in India

The world’s biggest car company has an enviable range of contemporary hatchbacks & sedans on sale worldwide. The range is so wide that you won’t even be able to count them!!! No, I'm serious. Toyota India could literally handpick & launch some sexy models here in the sub-10 lakh bracket and be the no.3 car maker of India. But no, instead they launched the Liva & Etios – both (although mechanically competent) felt outdated & cheap at launch, and feel even more so today. It is now 8 years since they were introduced! What’s worse, in the time that the same old Etios has been on sale, we have seen THREE DIFFERENT generations of the Dzire. Come on, Toyota! Is this the best that you can do? Furthermore, you brought the modern Yaris here, but overpriced it mistaking it for a Lexus . Result = F-L-O-P. Please bring your contemporary hatchbacks, sedans & compact SUVs here. Yeah, I know you are eventually going to swallow up Maruti-Suzuki, but brand T should also stand for something other than utility vehicles in India .

Last edited by GTO : 2nd October 2018 at 13:46.
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Old 2nd October 2018, 14:04   #3
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re: The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene

The latest blunder in the industry:

VW plonking a N/A 1000cc into a B-segment hatchback

The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene-images.jpeg

The Volkswagen polo 1.2 MPI was already a mediocre offering in every sense of that word. Poor top end, low levels of refinement and a 3 cylinder N/A in a car that weighs close to 1.2 tonnes.

So, how do you make a bad car EVEN WORSE?

Simple, you take a leaf out of Maruti's book (only this time the Alto K10) and plonk a 1000cc engine into a supposedly premium B2 segment hatchback !

What you get in return is ladies and gentlemen, yawn inducing acceleration, even better refinement (than the previous one) and a car that takes 17 years umm seconds to do a 0-100 while costing close to 8 lakhs OTR!

This is something you least expect from a German manufacture but VW as we all know has been setting trends when it comes to new lows in the Indian market. Oh by the way, did I mention that this engine is also finding its way in to a compact sedan called the Ameo?

Last edited by benbsb29 : 4th November 2020 at 07:35. Reason: Corrected typo : then to than
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Old 2nd October 2018, 14:10   #4
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re: The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene

Shall we make this the "Biggest Blunders in Indian Automobile Scene"?

1) Bajaj Auto exiting scooter segment because the segment was shrinking when Rahul Bajaj took the decision. Now scooters account for 30 - 35% of all Indian two wheeler sales.

2) All two wheeler manufacturers ignoring the rise of "lifestyle biking" (or large engine capacity) segment. All they had to do was watch the sales numbers of Royal Enfield and rising profits of Eicher Motors.

Last edited by SmartCat : 2nd October 2018 at 14:21.
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Old 2nd October 2018, 14:18   #5
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re: The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene

That's a nice compilation there! I have one to add.

Mitsubishi Completely Misunderstanding the SUV Market

Launching a 2015 Pajero as a 2019 facelift in the coming months, the ageing Montero; all through the CBU route and at exorbitant and absolutely nonsensical prices. The Montero was launched at 68 lacs ex-showroom - ensured the product was dead on arrival.

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Old 2nd October 2018, 14:24   #6
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Re: The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Car Scene

One from my side:

When Maruti decided to use the "Zen" moniker to their new hatchback which was nothing but a F10D WagonR underneath.

Imagine carrying forward the name of their low slung, fun to drive hatchback which had a good fan following among enthusiasts to a tallboy!

They later removed the "Zen" from the Zen Estilo but the damage was already done.

Last edited by Sherlocked : 2nd October 2018 at 14:35.
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Old 2nd October 2018, 14:32   #7
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Re: The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene

The fact that Maruti powers every single diesel car in its lineup with the same fiat sourced 1.3 multijet engine is a blunder itself albeit a profitable one xD.
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Old 2nd October 2018, 15:24   #8
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Re: The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene

How we can forget the latest blunder by Royal Enfield which they created after launching Pegasus edition and then Signals edition back to back.?

Thank god that they have initiated the damage control plan now.
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Old 2nd October 2018, 15:33   #9
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Re: The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene

One of the blunders committed by manufacturers in my eyes (and which continues) is treating 4wd capability as a luxury. For e.g. Tata offering Safari with 4wd only in its higher variant. In general automobile manufacturers not offering 4wd in cheaper cars is myopic thinking in my view. Just imagine the differentiation that a 4wd Tata Nexon will create. If Tata were to offer Nexon with 4wd, I would buy it this reading second.

On the Nano; while it's failure has been analysed a lot, I feel the simple mistake done by Tata was to even envisage building a car that cheap. Cars ( and other product groups) are expected to be priced above a certain threshold or it results in cognitive dissonance, which leads to doubt.

Last edited by rrsteer : 2nd October 2018 at 15:34.
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Old 2nd October 2018, 15:41   #10
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Re: The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene

Originally Posted by ChiragM
This was a completely hair-brained decision. Back in 2015, the SC decided to ban diesel engines larger than 2,000cc in the Delhi-NCR region. The ban was eventually & sensibly revoked. But such reckless sudden decisions by the government scares the heck out of global car makers who start viewing India as an unstable market.
Hare-brained yes. But not by the government, but the SC, which was overstepping it's role - law making is the government's domain.

They did the same with the other hare-brained rule of banning liquor shops & bars within a 500m distance from highways. The chaos it created, the livelihoods it destroyed (I know folks who lost their jobs and even ended up selling their homes), the short-cuts & loopholes that governments took recourse to, to circumvent the rule are too many to list. All for nothing & to later reverse it.
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Old 2nd October 2018, 15:50   #11
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Re: The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene

Originally Posted by ChiragM View Post
Maruti's shaky, unrefined, tractor-like 2-cylinder diesel in a passenger car

GTO clearly didn't like the refinement of the 2-cylinder diesel engine when he first drove the Celerio diesel.
During the Jeep brand launch back in 2016 in Jodhpur, I spoke with the FCA R&D folks, they were laughing about this then forthcoming engine and had advised Maruti not to follow through with this.

Another big automotive mistake

BMW / Volvo initially launching cars without spare wheels. The tyres and dealers are sparsely located pan-India. Hence it is not practical to use run-flats for 500+ km on rough roads. Add to the fact that the later cars have space savers which eat into the boot space. As you know, we indians do not travel light!
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Old 2nd October 2018, 15:52   #12
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Re: The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene

Ford offering the Iconic Mustang in India, without a Manual transmission, and only with a slow, dimwitted 6 speed Automatic!

The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene-fordmustang01.jpg

Also, don't forget the exorbitant pricing (CBU) and use of ordinary cabin materials.

Last edited by Prathiiik : 2nd October 2018 at 15:56.
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Old 2nd October 2018, 15:57   #13
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Re: The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene

Tata bringing the Marina was not that much a blunder as another thing they did, which IMHO is the original sin.

First - The Marina was pretty much a stretched Indigo. Instead of the boot, we had the different rear section to make it a Station Wagon.

However, the bigger blunder they did was to NOT work on their cars in the 90's. They had the Tata Estate with them. And the 206 for the smaller car. If only they had worked on these two, they would have had a big head-start in the Indian car market. The main issue with the Tata Estate was the reliability. Followed by power. The Sierra was another success that they did not build on.

IF Only ... !!!
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Old 2nd October 2018, 16:19   #14
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Re: The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene

Hindustan Motors - thinking till it's last days that they are competitive in a cutthroat market with a design based in the 1950s, just because Amby was one of the few things on the road till the 80's.
Imagine what they could have done with all that head start if they had the slightest will to innovate and keep up with the times.
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Old 2nd October 2018, 16:30   #15
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Re: The Biggest Blunders in the Indian Automotive Scene

Mahindra Quanto / Mini Xylo
A Xylo which was chopped off to reduce its length under the 4 metre requirement, to escape the excise duties.

The result, a decent car chopped off, leading to it ending abruptly, without any reason, and the rear 3/4th panel looking as if it has been badly rear-ended to reduce the length.

The next fiasco - Mahindra Nuvosport
As if the low sales of the Quanto were not enough, the Nuvosport was launched - an updated version of the Nuvosport.

I remember going to the Mahindra showroom to TD for my new vehicle, the price list showed the Nuvosport, asked the Sales guys about the vehicle, and the blank expresssion was

Last edited by Gannu_1 : 2nd October 2018 at 20:55. Reason: 2 m > 4 m.
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