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Automobiles 2018 and more: Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors to Mahindra, what next for top carmakers

Dec 24, 2018, 15:06 PM IST
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The year 2018 has been a mixed bag for the carmakers even as they rolled out some truly eye-catching vehicles. Even as that was happening, there was also another struggle that they were having to deal with - ecologically friendly car launches. Here, even as hybrids, CNG and biofuels found favour in the year 2018 among many carmakers, including Maruti Suzuki, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Honda, others such as Mahindra and Mahindra and Tata Motors have shown full faith in electric vehicles. The government, which had last year pushed for EVs, changed its stance opting for a technology-agnostic approach as far as clean energy fuel is concerned but a much awaited FAME II scheme didn't see the light of the day.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already set the agenda for the future roadmap of clean energy technology, seeking investment in electric vehicles and increased use of public transport. Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who had last year threatened to "bulldoze" the auto industry to adopt electric vehicles, has also pitched for alternative fuels such as ethanol and methanol along with electric vehicles. He, however, struck a conciliatory note this time saying the government was not against petrol and diesel fuels.

The apex court has ruled that companies would not be allowed to sell BS-IV stock after April 1, 2020. This would mean that the companies would have to exhaust their BS-IV inventories before the deadline.

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) wants a long-term policy for promoting electric mobility so as to also help industry plan its future investments.
 

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Maruti Suzuki

Maruti Suzuki

Also, automakers did not take their eyes off the BS-VI deadline. The industry is well prepared for the change as it has been part of the planning process over last few years, Maruti Suzuki India Chairman R C Bhargava told PTI. Speaking specifically for his company, Bhargava said, "As far as MSI is concerned, new product launches next fiscal year are all likely to be BS-VI (compliant)." He also said that by December 2019, the company would stop manufacturing of majority of its BS-IV models to prepare for transition to BS-VI.
On concerns whether the changes would hurt sales during the transition period, Bhargava said there would not be any impact on the company's sales.
"Sales of small diesel cars will go down substantially with the coming of BS VI emission norms. Customers will shift from diesel cars to small petrol cars in such cases and therefore it should not impact overall sales significantly either way. So BS-VI itself should not have any major impact on sales next year," he said.
"We have done an analysis of past numbers and the conclusion is that in the last two pre-election year sales always fall and in the election year the sales go up substantially," said Bhargava of Maruti Suzuki, which has over 50 per cent share in the domestic PV market.
The auto major plans to launch a couple of vehicles next year including a compact hatchback in the first quarter.
 

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Tata Motors

Tata Motors

Tata Motors, which is a leading player in commercial vehicles (CV) segment, said it is well on track for transition of its vehicles to BS-VI norms. "We have assigned resources for it. We are left with no room after the Supreme Court ruling," Tata Motors MD & CEO Guenter Butschek said. 
 

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Kia Motors

Kia Motors

"Indian government policies are not clear at the moment. We don't know the future policy but seeing the global market circumstances, there is a big direction (towards EVs)," Kia Motors India CEO & Managing Director Kookhyun Shim said.

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SIAM

SIAM

On 2018 sales, SIAM said it was a year of mixed trend. Commercial vehicles, three-wheelers and two-wheelers enjoyed double-digit growth at 32 per cent, 25 per cent and 11 per cent respectively but passenger vehicles faced a moderate growth of 5 per cent during April-November.
 

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Passenger Vehicle Demand

Passenger Vehicle Demand

Factors such as Kerala floods, rise in interest rates, fuel prices and insurance cost, as also liquidity tightening due to the NBFC crisis, have all led to slowing down of passenger vehicle demand.

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Industry players

Industry players

Overall, industry players are optimistic that passenger vehicle sales will revive next year with enhanced demand due to general elections and expect customers to lap up new product launches.

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Consumer interest in 2019

Consumer interest in 2019

Besides, Tata Motors' Harrier, Mahindra's compact SUV XUV300, Kia's compact SUV SP Concept and Nissan Kicks are set to generate consumer interest in 2019.
 

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Toyota

Toyota

Toyota Kirloskar Motor Deputy Managing Director N Raja said, "In the year 2019, passenger car market is estimated to have a growth of 7-8 per cent in accordance with the economy growth."

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