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Old 22nd April 2020, 12:24   #31
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

I can't help but agree. I am often puzzled by the weird choices offered by so many OEM's. True its only Maruti & Hyundai/Kia who seem to get it right.

Most OEM's are supposed to conduct detailed customer clinics & surveys before launch. Surely those who attend them, even if they are not enthusiasts, would be giving valuable feedback. What happens to that data? Is it not acted upon? Even if they gather dust, what prevents OEM's to follow forums like TBHP. Or are they too busy driving FB & IG likes on social media? This seems to be an obsession now.

Why can't OEM's understand Autos as a category is "Product Driven". Unlike other generic product categories, where slick Marketing can carry the day, in Autos, you better have a great product. To arrive at a great product, the basic discipline of listening closely to customer needs is critical.

Probably this step is short-circuited by OEM's or larger forces play such as Senior Management weighing in on decisions instead of putting an ear to the tracks. The sad outcome of this is unsold vehicles and rampant discounting.

One only needs to look at the back pages of newspapers and discounts on offer to know which models sell & which struggle. I am not taking any names but the louder the offer, the more likely you will find them at the bottom of the Monthly Sales Charts. So much for Product Planning.
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Old 22nd April 2020, 13:55   #32
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

To this day I am not sure why VW didnít launch the Polo TDI with AT. They launched the same in Ameo which looks horrendous. If you wanted a Polo AT you have to go with the petrol version which is great. But for long distance commuters we are yet to have a true diesel AT hatchback and the polo TDI with AT would have opened up a new segment IMHO
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Old 22nd April 2020, 14:01   #33
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

I feel like TATA Motors has perfected this art of "How not to launch a car!"-

1) My point is not about the Harrier or the Altroz. I am talking about Tigor.
Back when Tigor was first launched, I was impressed with the interior quality, well proportioned looks and good feature list. One chink (and a big one) in the armour was the under powered petrol and diesel engines!

TATA Motors already had quite capable turbo petrol and diesel engines in the Zest (which was slowly being relegated to the cabbies). However, TATA Motors launched Tigor with Tiago's lethargic petrol and diesel motors. The JTP Tigor came, however, that was positioned a bit differently and not as a direct rival to Dzire and Amaze.
What could have been a sales blockbuster, is now dying a slow death.

2) Launch all variants with optimum equipment corresponding to their price.

Harrier, in terms of features is a very under equipped car. But when you analyze the lower variants, its a complete mockery in terms of features. For instance the XE variant costs nearly 17L OTR in Pune. It does not even get a parking camera or a single din music system. Compare that with the similarly priced variants of Seltos and Hector and one can't understand what was TATA Motors thinking launching such a bare bones variant.

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 23rd April 2020 at 22:10. Reason: Tata Motors, not TAMO. TAMO is a separate entity by itself. :)
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Old 22nd April 2020, 17:25   #34
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

"The original reputation sticks"

I believe this applies to pricing too and hence manufacturers avoid the AT+Diesel combo since that will increase the price of the costliest variant - and this price sticks to everyone's senses. The masses will consider the "top variant" of this particular car to be expensive. A lot of the people just look at the price bracket before the options and hence manufacturers fear launching the expensive variants at launch.
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Old 22nd April 2020, 17:29   #35
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

Quote:
Originally Posted by RMN View Post
"The original reputation sticks"

I believe this applies to pricing too and hence manufacturers avoid the AT+Diesel combo since that will increase the price of the costliest variant - and this price sticks to everyone's senses. The masses will consider the "top variant" of this particular car to be expensive. A lot of the people just look at the price bracket before the options and hence manufacturers fear launching the expensive variants at launch.
Is this the situation true though? I mean look at Seltos. Look at the DCT petrol of Hector. These do have their top end models in automatics.

IMHO, if the manufacturer provides value to the customer, they are willing to lap it up, despite the high price.
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Old 22nd April 2020, 18:41   #36
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

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Originally Posted by 07CR View Post
Is this the situation true though? I mean look at Seltos. Look at the DCT petrol of Hector. These do have their top end models in automatics.

IMHO, if the manufacturer provides value to the customer, they are willing to lap it up, despite the high price.
I agree but I believe manufacturers are concerned about this. Can't understand why else they do it
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Old 22nd April 2020, 18:45   #37
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

1. Owing to wrong assumptions, manufacturers tend to underestimate the customers, such as, not offering diesel AT, not offering certain combination in top variant etc. Mostly the logic given by the manufacturer is that the variant will be expensive. They should let the customers decide it.

2. My guess. For many global players their India arm may be contributing by relatively insignificant numbers, hence allotting fund might be an issue. Lack of agility and inability to convince the top brass is to be blamed here.

3. My colleague keeps quoting - why are you throwing in 25 and earning 50, when you can throw in 50 and earn 200!
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Old 22nd April 2020, 18:47   #38
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

One company that continues to surprise me with its strange choices is "Toyota". Agreed that they always have a couple of aces up their sleeve, like an Innova now or Qualis previously; but if you look at their global line-up, they have potential winners in every possible segment.

Add to it a lot of them are doing very well in the South East Asian markets, where road surfaces and fuel are very much like India. I assume the costs of getting such a car launched in India should be rather low. To boost things further, Toyota has such a solid reputation in this country, that I'm sure they can sell many models like hot cakes.

Why cant they give the likes of Hyundai or Kia a run for their money with their own innumerable engine, transmission combinations.

Alas, it seems some in Toyota has decided that we are not going to take full advantage of this market. To be fair, I can even say the same about a Ford and Chevrolet, but atleast they have tried and failed in the past.

Reliable sources from Toyota have confirmed that there are no immediate plans to launch either of the below cars.
Attached Images
  

Last edited by autotranny : 22nd April 2020 at 18:57.
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Old 22nd April 2020, 19:42   #39
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

Very aptly put by GTO and I hope manufacturers learn the lessons. Specifically, our home-grown ones, Tata and Mahindra. Sometimes we may want to compromise even to AMT boxes, like I did with Nexon booking, though I would have preferred a proper AT, when we see other factors nullifying the AMT disappointment. However, having all the options at the right time is extremely important. GTO had narrated this point very well and aptly highlighted on having a good quality product from the launch.

However, I must add one more thing that hurt me very much so far. That is the weird strategy employed by OEMs to keep churning out BS-4 versions till very end and delaying the launch of BS-6 versions. I am not sure how it paid off the OEM’s, which I believe a wrong strategy. In my case, the wait for my new car turned out to be forever. Landed in India in July with my heart set on Nexon but also having consciousness that is asking me to wait for BS-6. Hoped Tata would launch BS6 version atleast six months before the deadline but hope soon turned despair. Unfortunately, not much BS6 choices in market either with collective herd strategy employed by OEMs, except some trickling in from Maruti which is not my choice. Then Seltos comes along with a bang but brings its own waiting cycle which made me feel sick to bone despite ready to bitterly swallow the higher price. Towards the end of the year, finally tata brings good news that it will be launching but keep delaying till Feb. Irony is that, I missed the first car that came to dealership due to my outstation trip but never imagined that one miss will lead to further delays. Then this Covid hits all of us. Now the whole world, the life, that we know of is changing and i am not really sure about buying a car now both financially and also the changing life around us.

Good or bad, timing is the essence and i have my own story backing that up. For many of us, car is a big investment and thought through in terms keeping it atleast for 5+ years (I was thinking like 8+ years). Such long-term purchases are made, mostly by many of us, with many calculations, financials, heart and soul. I hope they learn. Meanwhile, my confusion continues…

Last edited by vb-san : 22nd April 2020 at 20:10. Reason: Paragraph spacing
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Old 22nd April 2020, 20:27   #40
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

I believe manufacturers want to get their product out there in front of the customers and see if the demand is there to invest in variants. Of course, this is true when they have not done their homework in terms of what customer would really want.

It appears to me this is the going the Agile way of IT where you put together a function which addresses minimum requirements and keep building on it. Unfortunately in manufacturing world, increments are in months if not years.
Engine/Transmission options should be considered the minimum and trim levels should be added moving forward.
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Old 22nd April 2020, 20:48   #41
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

One must also not forget the huge population of engineers in indian families compared to the 1990s, who understand how engines work(at least basic), what horsepower , torque etc means, the difference. And relatives usually ask them for their opinion when buying a new car.

And unlike older generations, the younger gen. have more exposure to vehicles and have experienced good cars at least through friends, acquaintances or even taxi rides. The current generation are also spirited drivers(for better or worse) and appreciate the extra reserve of power and refinement they have come to expect even if they don't need it always.

Unfortunately Companies like Tata, seems to still think that buyers don't mind such things.
They focus a lot of things like design, safety, etc and then go and deliver a subpar experience it by using an engine from their smallest car.
It's like garnishing you 5-star dish but you forgot to add salt.
Yes, you can add the salt later, but the explosion of flavour and decadence that the customer was expecting in his first bite, is lost. Nothing is like that joy you get in the first bite

Last edited by ZenMaster : 22nd April 2020 at 20:50.
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Old 23rd April 2020, 06:58   #42
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

Very well written GTO. Here are some of the stages that manufacturers go through where they are likely to error.

1 A. Initial Product Planning
Companies write down a set of portfolios of customers who are to be targeted. For example, if the car is in 20-30 lakh price range, potential customers in India are likely to be senior managers or businessmen who earn 35 or 40 lakhs plus per annum. A set of specifications for such a car is also conceived in this phase. Then a customer clinic is conducted to verify the customers will be happy with this product. Companies should also have lessons learned from previous products integrated into the plan, feedback like headlamps were poor or horn was not good etc.
More expensive cars launched in India are carried over from other markets. And most often, cars considered expensive in India are cheap cars in some other markets. For example, Honda civic, Hyundai Elantra etc. only need a 120-150bhp engine to hit the numbers they want in their primary markets. The product planning team thinks they can reuse this combination with minor changes to save cost on engineering, validation and manufacturing for the new market and it fails.
Big blunders like missed power train combinations happen here because the product team overlooks the basic need of the market for cost consideration mostly.

1 B. Final product planning
Sometime there are too many combinations that the products are launched in a staggered phase. For example, product for export will follow the original product by 6 months, and mostly, top variants of Indian markets with fancy interiors, moon roofs, premium audio system etc. are only ready for this launch. This means Indian version will get a top variant car with more powered engine and fancier tech variant later along with the export variants for example.

2. This plan is floated to the engineering section.
This is where most of the conflicts happen. Most of the plan coming from marketing and product planning is ambitious, and mostly over ambitious. Engineering will come back with a million problems. For example, marketing might say that they need a 10inch touch screen which is super-fast responsive, but most of the infotainment systems are globally developed and carried over for a few years. The next software/hardware release will only be a few years later and so the vehicle will have to stick to the old laggy 6inch system. Another case is when the asking features are too much for the cost. Marketing will need a 360-degree camera for the car whereas it canít afford to add that cost into the car for having 4-5 cameras and an image processing module for stitching the images together. Another case is when the problems are identified late that the feature will need to be dropped off.

3. Manufacturing related problems
Sometimes some of the combinations will need more time because of the numerous problems in those variants. Such products go for a staggered phase of launch. Sometimes existing capacity of a product may not support using the product for more cars. Letís say the company has an engine in a product with a turbocharger and you want to bring that engine to another car. The capacity to produce this engine might only be so much that the company will have to invest a lot more to bring that engine to a different car.

Letís take Tata Altroz as an example. I think this is a case where the throttle calibration is poor. Look at the specs of the car compared to its competitors.

Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch-altroz-specs.jpg

The specs of petrol car are right up there with its competitors. The torque numbers come in at a lower rpm. But then how can so many people think it is under powered? My guess is that the throttle response is mapped poorly. When the driver presses the accelerator, the control algorithm changes the throttle opening (letting in more or less air) and can possibly change the spark timing to give the adequate power that the driver is looking for. If the engineer who calibrated this engine thought it was adequate to not open the throttle fast enough, then too we could see such a behavior, similar to how an Ďecoí mode works. There could also be other factors like emission or fuel economy that might have pushed the engineers to do this. So technically, the product was still well conceived, but was not well implemented.
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Old 23rd April 2020, 10:29   #43
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

IMO, The biggest blunder that many companies make is that they dont provide engine and transmission options in their products (either trying to squeeze the customer or trying to avoid the cannibalism) even when they have them at their disposal.

We bought a Nexon Diesel AMT last year, the selection process went like this:
1. Honda: We like WRV and Jazz but dont like City and Amaze. But, we also wanted decently powered engine and non-AMT gearbox. Honda gave those (1.5+AT) in City and Amaze but not in WRV/Jazz.
2. Ford: We liked Freestyle but ford didnt give 1.5 + AT in it. Then we booked Figo 1.5+AT but ford couldnt deliver it in time, so had to cancel it.
Ecosport gets 1.5 + AT but then it had a 3 cylinder coarse sounding engine which was acceptable at Figo/Freestyle pricing but not at ecosport's price range, also ride quality was better in Figo/Freestyle despite significantly less prices.
3. Mahindra: we liked the XUV300 but rejected it for having AMT.
4. Tata: Nexon had everything that we liked except that AMT and unavailability of 6 airbags but it atleast had 5 star safety rating and everything else.

So, we settled for Nexon in Diesel AMT configuration as it is the smoothest AMT in the market. But our order of preference would have been like following if those options were available:

1. XUV 300 with non AMT automatic
2. WRV with 1.5 + AT (anything petrol or diesel)
3. Jazz with 1.5 + AT (anything petrol or diesel)
4. Freestyle 1.5 + AT
5. Nexon 1.5 diesel AMT

As you can see we settled for the last option because other options were not made available by the manufacturers despite the fact that they had those engines and gearboxes at their disposal. Manufacturers must try to make their products best in class by providing options that they have at their disposal (Kia did that beautifully with Seltos laughing all the way to the bank). Because not providing them in fear of cannibalism will simply result in loosing their customers to other manufacturers.

Tata has made the same mistake now with Altroz, they have made a great car except for those engines. They should have plonked Nexon's engine options in the Altroz, ofcourse there would have been some cannibalism between them but eventually Tata would have retained the customer which is unlikely to happen now, people looking for decent power will simply shun the Altroz and buy a non Tata car now.

Last edited by 46TheDoctor : 23rd April 2020 at 10:35.
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Old 23rd April 2020, 22:26   #44
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

I wonder why does it take so long for a manufacturer to understand the market and offer what the market demands. One such example being the recent launch of Altroz from Tata with that underpowered petrol engine, knowing that the market is shifting to petrol engines. Why do not they go all guns blazing right from the beginning? As rightly said by GTO it is very difficult to go back to a car once rejected.
But indeed the game is changing now with the entry of new players in the market (MG and KIA) who have at least offered a better combination of engines and gearboxes and a good range of variants as well. I believe this trend will also be followed by other manufacturers in future where selecting a car with a good combo of engine, transmission and features will be much easier.
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Old 23rd April 2020, 22:58   #45
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Default Re: Why it's important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch

Interesting thread GTO!
In my opinion we will see more cars coming in the coming years from different manufacturers. All of them are trying to make a lace in the highly competitive premium hatch and compact SUV segment. One very important thing that the manufacturers needs to think of is an unique unique selling proposition (USP) of the car while positioning in the crowded market. And this should never be a bashing of competitor's cars showing point wise why one's own car is superior. Car buying in India has an emotional angle to it always and so the USP thing needs to start ground up from design board and establish itself through marketing and promotions and exemplified by the sales persons. Then you can tell a story which will connect the customer. Obviously market research and all that is needed like giving options like AT, engine options but overall there has to be an USP of the car.
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