Smart design opportunities for Indian carmakers to meet customer needs

The Innova has been owning the chauffeur-driven market forever. Yet, the Carnival came in and carved quite a niche for itself.

BHPian buddha recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I keep wondering: what opportunities can astute carmakers act on to meet Indian client needs? Two examples of what I mean:

The LWB E-Class instantly cracked upon the luxury sedan market on launch.

The Innova has been owning the chauffeur-driven market forever. And yet the Carnival came in and carved quite a niche for itself in the Innova plus area. The Vellfire too.

So what other opportunities do you see out there? Couple of ideas from my side:

  1. An LWB SUV. Could be perfect for Honda's upcoming SUV. Just stretch it out in the middle to create Skoda Superb level legroom and count your money all the way to the bank. Make it obvious that it's LWB. Think E class. Superb. Nissan Sunny. Don't make it discreet. Then you would just become one among a dozen SUVs in the midst of the most competitive segment in India. But stretch it out and you have Uber's clear positioning.
  2. A two-row SUV with captain chairs. Perfect for chauffeur-driven folks who don't need the size of the Innova. Again Honda has the brand cachet and reliability reputation to take on the Innova in an oblique manner. Could be a variant of the upcoming Honda SUV that I am recommending that should only come in as an LWB. But say a Tata could also do it with the Harrier. Cool would be if the third seat in the middle can be attached when needed. Some minivans in the US have this
  3. Lounge seating style EV. A lot of cars are pure urban mobility vehicles. Will spend their lifetime in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Can we get a design that maximizes conversation? Like a modern ambassador-style cushy bench seating all around. I think autonomous players are going in this direction but even without self-driving what's stopping a pure EV with a flat floorplan from going in this direction? And a stripped-out version of this car could become a killer city taxi. Tata - could this help with your 50% EV aspirations?

What other ideas do you guys have?

Here's what GTO had to say on the matter:

Quite a thread concept, thanks for sharing! Totally agreed with the LWB luxury cars which are simply perfect for India.

My suggestion = removeable hard-tops. We already have two great offroaders on sale (Thar, Gurkha) and there's another one coming up (Jimny). I bought a Thar Convertible only because I love opening the top up in the early morning or late at night. Man, the joy of open-top cruising! It's so convenient & easy that I've already flipped the top open 4 times in a month. But the convertible does have many disadvantages. 75% of Thar sales are from the hard top which is difficult to remove & store. A removable hard-top would greatly solve that problem.

Like the Wrangler.

Here's what BHPian RedTerrano had to say on the matter:

Going by my personal experience, I feel there is one major pain point in cars - Headroom.

There are tall people in India. I am 6' and used to absolutely love the WagonR tall boy design. Sadly, in the Terrano, there is not much headroom. After an initial (very) painful experience, I swiftly learnt to be very careful on bumpy roads.

A design with sufficient headroom to accommodate tall people will be certainly appreciated. I have driven/travelled in numerous types of cars, and have rarely enjoyed the spacious headroom like the WagonR. (It's far worse in the rear seat, with the sloping roofs further cramping you down.)

Here's what BHPian Axe77 had to say on the matter:

Lovely thread and you've covered some great points. At the risk of repetition, for me personally, this is what I'd like to see:

  1. MUVs / SUVs with face-to-face 2nd-row seating: With decent boot space after accounting for this. I'm thinking the likes of a Carnival having this option or even a plus Innova. Considering the number of chauffeur-driven large families that use these vehicles such seating would have a fair few takers I believe.
  2. More LWB SUVs: It's incredibly hard to get any SUV with a decent second row with uber comfortable under-thigh support. I'd really like some customised luxury SUVs which provide excellent 2nd-row comfort. Take the X3 for example or even GLC. The LWB 3 series has a MUCH more comfortable back seat. Same if you consider a Superb vs Kodiaq / Tiguan or even a Camry vs Fortuner.
  3. More strong hybrid offerings: Diesel is going to get increasingly undesirable and given our market's love for SUVs and MUVs, pure petrol offerings are impractical for high-mileage cars. Strong hybrids really have the potential to take the market by storm if they become more mainstream.
  4. More notchbacks & station wagons: I love the practical cars like the Octavia and 3 GT offer and really miss the exclusive Octavia Combi from years ago. However, I'm conscious I'm a distinct minority in this preference and this may have limited appeal in the Indian market.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

Live To Drive