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Old 12th September 2019, 08:05   #1
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Default Potential of 2-seater cars in India

A quick google search showed me a couple of very old threads on the forum. Given it's 2019 and the urban conditions have significantly changed since then, and given that our roads haven't gotten any bigger, why hasn't there been more focus on 2-seaters? 70-80% of the cars I see on my drive to work have 1 occupant. I'm guessing it's the same in most cities.

I'm a huge fan of small, fun to drive cars and there aren't too many options in India. I feel like there's a significant percentage of people (mainly aged 20-30 besides people who drive to work) who'd be interested in 2-seaters. I can imagine that they'd be easier to live with in our cities, more efficient, more fun and cheaper.

I'm thinking the Fiat 500 here minus the rear seats and perhaps made a bit shorter. If such a car be priced at around 70-80% of its 4-seater equivalent and I can imagine it flying off shelves automatically. I'd have one of those in a flash even if I already have a car for family drives.

What do you guys think?
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Old 12th September 2019, 08:18   #2
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Default Re: Potential of 2-seater cars in India

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Originally Posted by kauphylover View Post
70-80% of the cars I see on my drive to work have 1 occupant. I'm guessing it's the same in most cities.
Most car-owning households only have 1 car in the house & India has a low car penetration rate of merely 30 - 40 cars / 1000 citizens (it's more like 700 - 800 / 1000 citizens in USA).

That single car of the house has to perform as the office car, airport car, family car, drop-to-school car, shopping car, evening & weekend outings cars, highway car...you get the gist.

A 2-seater car will bomb on arrival. The number of customers who'd want one is way too small for anyone to bother.

By the way, I own a 2-seater car (Jeep) and you can too! Buy an offroader (e.g. Thar or used Gypsy) and throw the rear bench out. Or get one of the CBU imports!
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Old 12th September 2019, 08:35   #3
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Default Re: Potential of 2-seater cars in India

I doubt if there will be a market for 2-seater car in the near future; a few may look at it as a lifestyle choice – as a second or third car.
Forget a 2-seater, even a 2-door car won’t have much takers in our market. A cheap and cheerful number in the lines of the Jimny can change that though.
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Old 12th September 2019, 09:19   #4
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Default Re: Potential of 2-seater cars in India

Quote:
Originally Posted by kauphylover View Post
70-80% of the cars I see on my drive to work have 1 occupant. I'm guessing it's the same in most cities.

What do you guys think?
Yes I have seen in Hyderabad, Delhi, Chennai, and Bengaluru many cars ply on the roads with single occupancy, and I am guessing it is the same with many other top-tier cities. I can see a gradual growth in numbers of single occupancy cars here at Vizag too.

But I doubt if these single occupant car users will ever prefer a small 2-seater car over 4/5-seater car that they are used to. But there is a small niche market for these cars in top-tier cities which will gradually pickup over time. Manufacturers have to invest and wait for the culture to pickup which they won't do given the un-justifying numbers.
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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Most car-owning households only have 1 car in the house & India has a low car penetration rate of merely 30 - 40 cars / 1000 citizens (it's more like 700 - 800 / 1000 citizens in USA).

That single car of the house has to perform as the office car, airport car, family car, drop-to-school car, shopping car, evening & weekend outings cars, highway car...you get the gist.

A 2-seater car will bomb on arrival. The number of customers who'd want one is way too small for anyone to bother.
Got to concur here, in case of 1 car households this idea of 2-seater cars won't workout.

Car penetration in India is very low but the scope further growth to US(or any such country) levels is also less as the infrastructure is already congested with existing cars and can't be expanded further to handle 700 to 800 cars per 1000 citizens level. This is where we need cars with small footprints to accommodate more cars on the road. The only foreseeable solution for India is robust public transport system with robust last mile connectivity.

Ola, Uber, and the likes can help de-congest the roads and especially the parking lots. I would like them to grow further to challenge the private car ownership, as most of the private cars for most of their lifetime stay idle which I see as inefficient resource utilization which is not good for the earth.

However, 2-seater cars if introduced as a niche segment with lower sales expectations, with sales limited only to tier-1 cities will find moderate success.

I can see many multi-car households these days where each person at the house using their own car, such houses can be the target market for these cars. When compared to single-car households the number of multi-car households is very low but still the numbers are significant enough for the niche market sizes.

On a different note, I would love to see the following cars on Indian roads:
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Potential of 2-seater cars in India-hondae.jpg  

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Last edited by wheelguy : 12th September 2019 at 09:30.
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Old 12th September 2019, 09:23   #5
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I feel car is still regarded as a status symbol for majority of the family, including myself. How much of "status" is a 2 seater is anybodys guess. If Nano bombed spectacularly, then a 2-seater would sink even more spectacularly.
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Old 12th September 2019, 09:32   #6
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Default Re: Potential of 2-seater cars in India

Segmentation is very important to position cars. If I were to sell a two seater, I'd look at Millennials - but 'they no buy no cars no more' (since they are more an experiential breed - love to experience without owning). Regular family guy has his seats full, and even on his way to work - is offering 'ride share'. We had a lot of two seater cars in India like Zen Carbon edition, or the Dolphin - but they all disappeared. Electrics like E20 are mostly with 2 occupants, I see. So we could see a resurgence in that space. You never know

Quote:
Originally Posted by kauphylover View Post
who'd be interested in 2-seaters. I can imagine that they'd be easier to live with in our cities, more efficient, more fun and cheaper.
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Old 21st September 2019, 10:28   #7
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Default Re: Potential of 2-seater cars in India

I doubt 2 seater cars would make market sense give that they aren't actually too much smaller than the smallest hatchbacks in India. India shouldn't make the mistake of trying to give every person a car (which US did about 50 years ago.)

There's also a utility aspect to it. Most 2 seaters in the US are sports cars- even the humble Toyota 86 is one. Ain't nobody driving that with our broken roads and improper infrastructure.
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Old 21st September 2019, 10:37   #8
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Default Re: Potential of 2-seater cars in India

Indian market is shifting towards CUV>CSUV from a predominantly small car market.
ie as people have become more affluent they want to spend more money to buy a car that can help them with multiple roles- drive to office, weekend trips out, airport drops et all.

The 2 seater will have no takers. It's a good office drive or a fun car, but it will never serve the other needs of a car buyer in India.

For 2 seaters to grow in prominence we need car penetration to go up. It could at best be a second car option!
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Old 21st September 2019, 12:19   #9
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Default Re: Potential of 2-seater cars in India

I drive a Polo GT TSI which for all practical purposes is a two seater.

I absolutely need my Verna when I have more than one passenger. I think of the Polo as a very "selfish" experience, where it's all about me, the driver.

In India, the average car buyer looks for the maximum value for this money. Isn't that why compact SUV's are all the rage now?
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Old 21st September 2019, 12:57   #10
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Default Re: Potential of 2-seater cars in India

Quote:
Originally Posted by wheelguy View Post

Ola, Uber, and the likes can help de-congest the roads and especially the parking lots. I would like them to grow further to challenge the private car ownership, as most of the private cars for most of their lifetime stay idle which I see as inefficient resource utilization which is not good for the earth.
Au contraire, Ola/Uber only shift the driving responsibility to the operator. Consider 'x' no of private cars being replaced by 'x' number of cabs. The sum total of 4 wheelers remains the same. Congestion & parking woes remain the same, only thing is that you'll be in the backseat. Further, car pooling by cab aggregators is being frowned upon by the authorities, thus the issue of a whole car dedicated for a single person remains.
Imo, two seater cars can only thrive in the cab market. There's nothing they can do that a bike/scooter can't (except overhead protection), & they're too big to be easily ridden/parked like a two wheeler, this neither here nor there.
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Old 21st September 2019, 13:33   #11
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Default Re: Potential of 2-seater cars in India

Other than enthusiast, Generally Indians prefer VFM concept. Example: I’m willing to pay 6 lakhs which should have 7 seats. Renault Triber comes in to picture.
When comes to 2 seated car, Definitely it will be fun to drive.
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Old 21st September 2019, 14:50   #12
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Default Re: Potential of 2-seater cars in India

Anybody watched the movie - Jobs. "People don't know what they want until you show it to them" - Steve Jobs says.


I agree with all that has been written above, all the reasons that a 2 seater would not work. But believe me within those arguments at least i can see a ray of hope that it would be a success may be not as much as a wagonR or Swift but at least in profitable volume. A volume which will encourage all the other companies to join the band wagon.

For e.g. GTO says
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
India has a low car penetration rate of merely 30 - 40 cars / 1000 citizens (it's more like 700 - 800 / 1000 citizens in USA).
BUT the no. of those "/1000's" is much bigger than the US so that automatically means a much bigger market even with that low penetration rate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arunramaswamy View Post
I feel car is still regarded as a status symbol for majority of the family, including myself. How much of "status" is a 2 seater is anybodys guess.
I think a Mini cooper is as much a status symbol than a C-class and certainly bigger one than Hector.

Then someone raised the 1 car per household issue. Those households also include the millenials who by the way in much and ever increasing nos. live alone in a new city or with their spouses who together can perfectly fit in a 2 seater which perfectly satiates their need of a comfortable, nimble and fun to drive vehicle along with fashion, cool and pro-environment quotient . The culture of family planning only furthers my case as they can enjoy that cool car for longer before the need for more seats arise. In case anyone argues that millennials prefer non-ownership, they must be educated that most of it is because of pragmatism. A sexy, sorry cool 2 seater can also offer a lot of practicality to poach them from Ola. Savings from Uber are not enough to attract super-rich tax. And how about the senior citizen couples whose kids are settled abroad?

Then comes the case of multi-car family setup. They do so because they can afford it and its a different class of car for different needs. In this set up their is always a requirement of a Mini or Beetle kind of a 2 seater inside 15L budget. The young testosterone filled college brat from these families is the perfect customer who wants to look cool without actually doing anything. The self driving memsaheb needs to attend her kitty-party too. And the teen college going daughter? I think she is looking at a long waiting period.

BHPians will have to admit we all red-blooded males have a fantasy in common - zooming in a sexy, 2 door convertible, wind tossed hair. Even Candice Swanpoel comes a distant second. Here's is the chance for the auto majors to oblige albeit in a budget. Make them as toys for the boys in the garb of men.

I think the time is just perfect to experiment with a 2 seater car. Of course this market does not exist right now but so didn't the market for coupe's either at one point of time or SUV's for that matter. If hot hatches can sell in profitable numbers why can't a 2 seater. Somebody will have to take the risk and that is actually the essence of business. Playing safe does not gives profits. For that risk the X company will get first movers advantage - a huge one. Just like Hyundai took with the Kona. Honda took with the V-tech. Maruti took with the Dzire. Hyundai earlier with Tall boy design. Volvo with V90 cross country. Mahindra with Alturas. BMW with the X6. Tata with the buying of Land Rover. The list is endless. And its not as if its going to be a blind risk. The auto firms have huge and proven mechanisms to do market research, surveys, search for customer preferences, their aspirations and desires (auto shows anyone). At most it will be a calculated risk which in any case comes with launching any new model, be it in a proven segment. If still they wanna play safe, how about a baby SUV - 2 seater Jimny. The key here is to identify the perfect niche of target audience and the reasons for which not only they would want to buy one but also why they would need one. The brief for the product development team could not be as simple as - a 2 seater car with 1.0L petrol engine, 5 speed AT, 80 bhp, apple car play for millennials inside 6 lakhs. It has to be more than a utility product in fact much more. It has got to be desirable, something which the customer wants to be seen driving, associated with, not a car but an indulgence. It needs to be about individuality, a personal statement. They need to create a WOW! factor. It can't be as small as a Nano. May be more in the i10 or Jazz territory. They need to cater to different budgets. 6 lakhs, 9 lakhs and 12 lakhs. Even better if customer doesn't have only one option. If multiple brands each offer even 1 model, this segment will definitely take off or 1 brand offering 3 models which Maruti champions. Customer should get the feeling of an established 2 seater eco-system just like that of hatchbacks. It doesn't need to be futuristic in terms of some cutting edge technology. It just needs to be feature laden only from the existing crop. Indians are an aspirational lot. It can't be boring. The design language needs to be just...?? I don't know. Calligraphy, Ravishing, Fairyland, Art, Statuesque, Siren, Enchantress, Starlet, Poetic, Demoiselle - throw these words at the Italian Pininfarina and see what they come up with. That's what i am talking about. Man i want a mini Ferrari. OK i just went with the motions but still everybody gets the idea.

And its not like its a total gamble. All the auto companies already have these luscious beauties in their global portfolio (Like Honda has the "e" or the s660). How about testing the waters in the next auto show. Maybe its just what is needed in the so called recession. It's an opportunity for companies like Nissan and VW. Just what the doctor ordered. Turn the crisis into opportunity.

If i were the board member of any of these companies i would certainly have installed a department in R&D just for reading Team-Bhp.
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Old 21st September 2019, 14:52   #13
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Default Re: Potential of 2-seater cars in India

Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wheelguy

Ola, Uber, and the likes can help de-congest the roads and especially the parking lots. I would like them to grow further to challenge the private car ownership, as most of the private cars for most of their lifetime stay idle which I see as inefficient resource utilization which is not good for the earth.
Au contraire, Ola/Uber only shift the driving responsibility to the operator. Consider 'x' no of private cars being replaced by 'x' number of cabs. The sum total of 4 wheelers remains the same. Congestion & parking woes remain the same, only thing is that you'll be in the backseat. Further, car pooling by cab aggregators is being frowned upon by the authorities, thus the issue of a whole car dedicated for a single person remains.

Imo, two seater cars can only thrive in the cab market. There's nothing they can do that a bike/scooter can't (except overhead protection), & they're too big to be easily ridden/parked like a two wheeler, this neither here nor there.
Ola/Uber can definitely help de-congest the parking spaces. Imagine a person goes to a shopping mall in his own car, parks the car in the lot or on the roadside, and after an hour picks the car and returns home and park it at home. Now if the same person uses Ola/Uber then the particular parking space used previously is free and thus it helps de-congest the parking space.

Ola/Uber stands still for a less amount of time while serving a number of customers throughout the day whereas the personal car stands still throughout the day and only serves its owner for a small amount of time. Suppose if two cabs(one for drop-off & one for pick-up) served 20 customers each throughout the day, then they helped in freeing up 20 parking spaces in the city.

For example, if 100 users shifted from personal cars to Ola/Uber then couldn't Ola/Uber serve the 100 of them with 50~60 cars(or say 99 cars) does it not mean 40~50(or say 1) less cars on roads or in parking lots. Note there is an exception wherein all the 100 of them need to travel at the same moment of time.

Another example, if everyone who goes to a movie/shopping-mall uses Ola/Uber to go & return home, then the theater's parking lot don't have to be big enough to hold say 100 cars, instead they can provide 10 car size parking lot and few drop-off & pick-up platforms. Imagine the amount of space liberated due to not requiring parking lot for 90 cars!

Imagine everyone in your gated-community/apartment ditches personal cars in favor of Ola/Uber then won't they liberate a lot of parking-space which can be used for other purposes like kids play area etc? Also one doesn't have to pay a lot of vitamin-M to acquire the parking-space.

Yes two-wheelers and two-seater cars are any day better than full size single occupancy cars.

Last edited by wheelguy : 21st September 2019 at 15:09.
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Old 21st September 2019, 16:12   #14
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Default Re: Potential of 2-seater cars in India

Leave the 2 seater cars, even the 2 door cars, with rear seats have not fared well in the Indian Market. Buying a car in India is still a celebration and luxury, so people wont opt for a 2 seater. A young chap who wants to buy his first car, will plan for his Wife and kids
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Old 21st September 2019, 17:12   #15
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Default Re: Potential of 2-seater cars in India

I'd be interested provided I can get the 2 seater version at half or even less than half the price of its four seater equivalent. All 2 seaters I know of are exorbitantly priced. 95% + times I am alone in the car. I don't mind removing the rear bench in my sedan but I will still buy a 4 seater as it's economically viable.

4 litres water 40 rupees. 2 litres must cost Rs 20. Even if you want to buy 2 two litre bottles it adds to the inconvenience of carrying 2 bottles.

Last edited by bharatbits : 21st September 2019 at 17:13.
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