Hyundai Verna. Photo: Sanjay K Sharma
Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai and Honda, three of the country’s top four car makers, are in a race for first position in the mid-size sedan market.
This was earlier limited to Maruti and Honda but Hyundai has joined with the launch of its new Verna, after a full model change in August; this has got bookings for 20,000 units. Hyundai sold 6,054 units of the new Verna in September, against 6,010 units of the Honda City and 5,603 units of the Maruti Ciaz. Last month, it dispatched 4,701 vehicles, against the City’s 4,366 and 4,107 of the Ciaz. That makes the Korean car maker a segment leader, for now; the Verna’s waiting period is two months.
“The old Verna had a very successful run and the new one is bound to lead...it has all the capabilities to overcome any and many challenges to sustain the leadership,” said Rakesh Srivastava, director (sales and marketing) at Hyundai.
The old Verna was a segment leader for three years after the company introduced the fluidic model in mid-2011. The City was then its key competition. Maruti entered this space in October 2014 with the Ciaz; its earlier product in the segment, the Baleno, had limited success.
The new Verna has first-in-segment features such as front ventilated seats for keeping these cool in hot weather and a smart trunk that automatically unlocks and pops up when the owner stands there with the key. The domestic mid-size sedan segment has expanded to 20,000 units a month, from 15,000 earlier with the new Verna’s entry.
The rivals says it is too early to term Hyundai segment leader. “The competition is surely going up, with new models. (our) City continues to excite the imagination of customers...since launch of the new City in February, sales have been very strong,” said Yoichiro Ueno, president, Honda Cars.
The City was overtaken by the Ciaz as top player in the mid-size sedan market in 2016-17. In FY17, the City’s sales declined to 57,984 units (compared to 77,548 in FY16); Ciaz’s expanded from 54,233 units to 64,448 units in FY17. Ueno says the Ciaz had a price advantage due to a mild hybrid offering in the diesel variant. “After GST (goods and services tax) implementation, tax rates have come closer for both, making the diesel City competitively priced once again,” he said.
Prior to GST, diesels formed 70 per cent of Ciaz sales, as the diesel hybrid attracted tax incentives. The situation has reversed and the petrol variant is 70 per cent of sales.
The Ciaz operates in a price range of Rs 7.76 lakh to Rs 10.56 lakh for the petrol model, The diesel one is Rs 9.42 lakh to Rs 11.44 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). The Verna has a range of Rs 8 lakh to Rs 11.35 lakh for the petrol engine; the diesel models are between Rs 9.43 lakh and Rs 12.88 lakh. The City’s petrol variant begins at Rs 8.58 lakh and goes up to Rs 13.57 lakh; the diesel range is between Rs 10.84 lakh and Rs 13.62 lakh.