Car firms pulled almost 13 models off the road in FY19: Siam report

Almost 13 car models, including some popular entry-level ones, have been pulled off from the market. The discontinuations are owing to the requirement to meet tighter regulations on crash test and emission, experts said. A report from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) shows not even a single unit of the 12 models was built in February. The models were very much in production same month last year.


These models include the Eon from Hyundai, the Grande Punto, Avventura & Linea from Fiat, the Passat from Volkswagen, the Gypsy from Maruti, the Terrano from Nissan, the Lodgy from Renault, the Pajero Sport from Hindustan Motor, the Maxximo mini truck from Mahindra, the Brio from Honda, and the Nano from Tata Motors.


Maruti’s Wagor R, while discontinued in its earlier form, was replaced by a new Wagor R during the financial year. Business Standard reached out to know why these cars were not produced in February. Most original equipment manufacturers — except Volkswagen, Tata Motors, Renault and Honda Cars — did not respond to emails.


“The Nano, in its current form, will not meet the safety and emission norms, and may need infusion of fresh investments. No decision has been made yet in this regard. We continue to produce Nano according to customer requests,” said a Tata Motors spokesperson.


Honda Cars had announced its decision to stop producing Brio in February. The call was peculiar, considering the company announced its plans not to replace the model with any new product. “We have been witnessing upshifting trend among consumers. The market has shown preference towards sedans and sport utility vehicles (SUVs). With evolving choices and rising income levels, Honda Cars is redefining its product strategy. Amaze will now be our entry-model,” said a Honda Cars spokesperson.


Volkswagen, however, said its luxury sedan brand Passat continues to be a strong contender in the premium car segment in India.

“The Passat is important in our existing India portfolio, with a consistent performance on a month-on-month basis. Over the years, the Passat has received tremendous response here,” a Volkswagen Passenger Cars spokesperson said. The company had earlier also refuted speculations that it was considering to put an end to Passat in other parts of the world.


A Renault spokesperson said production planning was based on its focus to ensure healthy stock levels across the supply chain. “We have an aggressive product plan from this year onwards, and while we will create new segments in India’s automotive industry, we will also focus heavily on localisation in our future range of products,” the spokesperson said. Renault is readying for a new product launch this year, which will be a true game changer.


“With SUVs being Renault’s forte and the fastest-growing segment in India, our product strategy will revolve around leveraging this strength, whilst catering to segments we are not present in, to meet the evolving needs and preferences of Indian customers. Renault’s upcoming products will be designed, engineered, developed and manufactured in India, for India,” Renault said.


Dealers and experts say the discontinuations, especially of the old models, are in connection with the new upcoming norms on airbags and anti-lock breaking system (ABS) that prevents vehicles from skidding.


Gypsy, introduced in 1985, has been one of the major SUV brands for Maruti and the firm had informed dealers to stop bookings for the model recently as it may not be able to meet the crash test and emission norms, according to reports.


Maruti did not respond to a mail seeking information regarding speculations on more older models already being pulled off or expected to be discontinued. According to experts all passenger vehicles have to go through stringent crash test norms half way through the next financial year. Besides, the ABS is also being made mandatory. Emission norms are also getting tougher, with efforts to reduce pollution, in a year or so.


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the Italian-American carmaker, which recently announced it would cut 1,500 jobs in Canada to “better align production with global demand”, has been speculated to reduce its focus on the Fiat brand of products and focus on Jeep in India.


Meanwhile, auto major Tata Motor said that speculations based on the production data of a single month were not valid. “Production planning of a car is a conscious management of demand, system inventory and planned efficiencies. Therefore, speculating on the fate of a car based on a month’s production figure is something the company would not like to participate in,” said a company spokesperson.


According to Siam data, from April 2018 to February 2019, Tata’s Indica, Mahindra & Mahindra’s NuvoSport and Quanto, and General Motor’s Tavera were not in production. Some of these, meanwhile, were produced and sold during the same period last year.

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