Diesel cars on rampage


The automobile batch of 2007 is a mixed bag, with a distinct whiff of diesel. Quite a few diesel models from Maruti, Hyundai and even General Motors are lining up for launch, peppered with some notable gasoline driven hatchbacks.

The diesel versions of Maruti Suzuki swift and Hyundai Getz should hit the market in 2007. Hyundai will launch the Sonata Embera diesel during the first quarter of next year. General Motors is preparing to unleash the Chervolet Optra diesel in April. Ford too is likely to launch Fusion diesel in the third quarter.

But two of the most awaited launches of 2007 would undoubtedly be Mahindra-Renault Logan and Chevrolet Spark. The two models are likely to redefine the spaces they are about enter, and could change some equations in the market.

The diesel driven Logan would be pitched against the likes of the ever-enduring Maruti Suzuki Esteem and Tata Indigo. The Logan will carry a price tag of Rs 5-5.5 lakh and considering that it comes with the Renault badge it could find many takers. It will be rolled out in March / April and that’s around the time when Chevrolet Spark (GM’s much touted small car) will also hit the roads.

There are also some rumblings about Volkswagen. It is rumored that a model along the lines of Volkgwagen Polo could find its way into India next year. If that is so, there is going to be intense competition in that space. It could be a huge challenge for the likes of Swift and Getz.

This segment is set to get beefed up by the launch of Chevrolet U-VA in the third week of this month in any case. The Fiat Palio is also expected to reappear early next year, as is the Fiat Punto towards the end of 2007. Tata Motors will look to stir it up with the possible launch of the new Indica, this time powered by a Fiat engine.

Going up the value chain one may anticipate the arrival of the much delayed Skoda Fabia that was scheduled to take on Honda City this year itself. But there seems to be some hold up and 2007 could see it finally coming through.

Nissan is another major player which could step on the gas next year. On the anvil is the Nissan Teana which will slug it out with the likes of Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. One can also expect an uplifted version of the Ford Endeavor, the muscular looking sports utility.

Automobile sales in the country crossed 1.22 million units in January-November this year, while the whole of last year had witnessed sales of 1.13 million units.