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Indian Automotive Predictions for 2021

List of what you could expect in 2021 is based on pure speculation.

These are the words of BHPian ajmat.

Okay, 2020 is over. Some stuff that we expected were:

  • The Chinese incursion stemmed on the western side of India for now
  • Honda chopped off its nose
  • Nissan is slowly regrowing its limbs
  • VW cannot get on a proper diet, it gave up an oily diet for a spirited one
  • Audi committed Masochistic Asphyxiation
  • MG are everywhere almost like McDonalds (cars are shaped like hamburgers so am not surprised)
  • Kia broke into the market despite breaking down

Took a week off, in between intense work and sanitized reviews, some creative thoughts came out on what to expect in 2021. Would be fun to review towards the end of next year. Note, a lot of these are pure speculation!

So lets begin!

Ford

Will need to do something more drastic. The new SUV will be a decent shot in the arm. The upward trajectory will be Ford's to lose. Its time for the EcoSport to be flushed down the potty. The Puma would make a great replacement. Expect the Chennai facility to get upgraded in anticipation of a Puma and the new midsized SUV. Sanand (which must have been set up under political pressure) will continue with the Figo. The Figo might be relaunched with attractive pricing. Expect the Aspire to be dropped. You never know, Sanand might see some Fords with MG badges rolling out!

Mahindra

Dr Goenka – great car guy, lousy strategic business acumen. However, the Thar's success absolves him of his bungles! He retires. SsangYong will be cut loose or left to wither and die. Expect the mediocre KUV to be axed. The XUV300 will be repositioned a little cheaper with more promotion. An electric version will enhance the brand. Expect a new Scorpio to be announced. The new XUV500 will hopefully learn from the Harrier's hurried experience and launch with less niggles – expect a plug-in hybrid version. Mahindra electric, except for the XUV300, expect very little or nothing.

Maruti

Will continue to wallow in its mediocrity. Perhaps a sport Swift 1.5L might pop up out of nowhere. Expect new models with Toyota platforms to appear. Am sure a rebadged Yaris might be on the cards. Also, expect some hybrids to be phased in.

Only flash in the pan will be the Jimny.

Hyundai

They will continue to tweak the Creta and Venue. Like Maruti, it gives them volume. Unlike Maruti, they give good margins. The i10 will get small tweaks. The i20 will see big discounts. The Verna and Elantra remain anonymous.

The new Tucson will create more demand.

Kia

While not attending to warranty costs, Kia will continue blitzing with new products. I would expect the Sorento to come in as imports. They might pull a surprise and bring in a small car also using the i10 supply base.

Audi

Yawn, the Q3 will come in time for yummy mummies to replace theirs. However, all depends on the price. They should have learnt from the Q2. Audi will most certainly be putting pressure on its parent to bring back diesels which might come a little late. Expect the Q5 to return. The Q8 petrol will get quietly dropped. The new A3 might give some volumes if well priced. Skoda might burn them as the Octavia gets priority in Aurangabad.

Note, its been so long since Audi launched a car that I had to use an older pic!

BMW

The 2 Series Gran Coupe will start seeing discounts. The 3 and 5 will sell well with discounts except that the 3 LWB will cannibalise the C-Class and the 5. The X7 supply will be restricted in order to ensure better margins (these are so popular in Bangalore). A wish – the 128ti gets imported in limited quantities.

Expect the plugin X5 to appear depending on government incentives.

The iX will appear depending on the Taycan's success.

Mercedes

The A-Class saloon will sweep up more sales - it will take the A3 and conquer would-be CLA buyers. Don't expect any other small Mercs except for the GLA. The C-Class will slow down. The E-Class refresh will be a big hit, it looks like the forthcoming S-Class at a glance. The S-Class will be a huge hit. AMG SUV coupes will remain popular at the expense of high-end C-Class variants.

FCA

Small spark with the Compass refresh – I really cannot expect much from this engine manufacturer who make a few cars on the side. They might assemble a few Citroens instead. They should have brought the Renegade in.

Citroen

Might do reasonably well. It will be a niche, gadget-laden soft riding mediocre driving machine. But Indians love this kind of thing!

Nissan

All depends on the Magnite’s success. Nissan will be rebuilding the dealer network. Expect a successor to the Micra / Sunny. The Kicks might get a little boost in demand due to the Magnite's walk-in allure.

Renault

The Kiger will be its main focus. Expect a Duster replacement announcement towards the year end. This will be a higher spec variant distanced from the Kiger.

Volkswagen

The Tiguan All-Space will be sold in a fire sale. The new SUV will be moderately successful. Expect the Virtus to come by Diwali. The Passat TSI will slip in but in limited numbers. Expect the T-Roc to be relaunched as an assembly product depending on how the engine factory develops. May be better, the next T-Roc based on the Golf 8 might be made here depending on how the economy fares.

Haval

They will start although delayed. They could get creative and ask GM to produce the cars as a precursor to the takeover being cleared but GM will never make its mind up about this.

MG

These wily folks may leverage the British connection to route investment. Expect them to use Ford's Sanand plant leading to an eventual takeover. More variants of the Hector with AWD, a bikini etc. might appear.

The HS might be announced.

Jaguar Land Rover

The Defender will keep dealers happy and busy. The I-Pace will attract a few niche buyers.

Porsche

Will manage somehow. The Taycan might get launched but Porsche will be slow and soft-pedal for a while.

Tesla

Will soft launch but expect Tesla employees to be lurking around supermarkets and around the Golden Quadrilateral and other important highways planning out its supercharger network.

Toyota

Will continue to feed themselves with Marutis and their factories with Innovas. Expect the RAV-4 hybrid or a plain ICE version to take over from the Corolla.

Honda

Can't expect much – it will become the new Nissan. City hatch might come in to attack the i20. That’s about it. If they are smart, they could reconsider contract assembly of Accords and CRV's elsewhere, there is plenty of capacity available elsewhere, but Honda is aloof and never ask other manufacturers for help.

Skoda

They might be the Kia for 2021. The Vision-IN should really bring in the pent up Vento / Rapid replacement market. Things will look up for Skoda. Expect another batch of Karoq's to be imported.

The Octavia will see decent volumes as it will be virtually the only player. The tech inside will bring in more buyers.

The petrol-only option will send that old milk van, the Kodiaq, into oblivion.

Tata

They will bloom - not unicorn style. The Altroz shows what they can do, the forthcoming turbo engine will add more pizzaz. The Harrier will sell moderately unless Tata really reassures buyers that beta testing stays within the factory. Tata will be conservative in model launches and focus on being bug-free. Thank god the Serum Institute is located in the same town.

Other Trends (some are a bit of a wish list)

Diesel Policy

  • Move from banning to usage restrictions. Expect BSVI only in urban areas from 2025 unless you pay higher cess.

Exits

  • Haval might walk out before they walked in if the impasse continues.

Sell outs

  • Mahindra Electric - Beyond a Logan, nothing happened - might get sold on perhaps to a commercial vehicle manufacturer.
  • Fords Sanand Factory
  • Hindustan Motors Chennai factory. Stellantis will mean this CK Birla partnership will have a limited life and a "conscious uncoupling" might follow. PSA are cost killers.
  • Pininfarina finds Ssyanyong are no hope for a redesign and close shop.

Electric Charging Points

It will be Tesla vs the rest - expect Tata Power to lead this foray unless one of India's most favoured fat men decide to snatch a piece of the action.

Tyre Imports

  • The government will see reason and will no longer ban but might levy tariffs depending on origin.

Car Distribution

  • Currently, regional in nature, this will begin to get consolidated into national players.

Second-hand Market

  • This will continue to be distorted unless interstate migration of cars happens.

State Controlled Registration

  • Expect to see a plan for central control of car registration, taxation and fitness. That is assuming the government decides to focus on actually governing. States will seek revenue from allocation, local sales tax and fuel surcharges.

Retirement and Regulation of Old Cars

  • Plans for these to be usage and fitness based. Older cars will need to be used on a limited basis or during non-peak hours.
  • Fitness Regimen will be strict for cars below 30 years.

These are what I can think of so far. Am sure there is plenty more for discussion.

 
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