Car launches next year

Year 2007 will definitely bring with it more traffic jams, for 18 new cars are expected to be launched during the next 12 months.

Among the brand new passenger cars expected to roll out, the most awaited is the Mahindra Renault Logan, which is likely to hit the road by April. Experts believe the entry level C-segment notchback would shake up the category with a fiercely competitive price tag of Rs 4.5-5 lakh.

General Motors is vying for a bigger pie of the small car segment with the Chevrolet Spark. Also slated for an April launch, the Chevy spark is the refurbished version of the much loved Daewoo Matiz. Expanding the small car category further, Hyundai Motors is working on a hatchback code named Pa positioned between the Santro and the Getz and aimed squarely at the new Zen Estilo.

The Hyundai Pa will bridge the gap between the Santro and Getz, giving customers more options within the Hyundai family, an expert said. Hyundai is also working on a one-liter diesel engine, which may prove a tough competitor for arch rival Maruti Suzuki.

While diesel cars were only Tata Motors’ forte in India till now, Maruti is expected to tilt the scales in its favor with the diesel version of the Swift. With a 1.3 liter multi-jet heart, the car is expected to be priced at Rs 6.4 lakh. Hyundai is not sitting idle either and though an official declined to comment, the Getz diesel is round the corner. GM too will bring in the diesel versions called Aveo and Optra.

The New Year will also make way for the big ones. BMW will begin its journey in India with the 3-series, assembled at its factory in Chennai. The 5 series will follow with the X5, X3. Don’t be surprised if DaimlerChrysler brings in its Mercedes Benz M-class.

Volvo, better known for its luxury buses and trucks in India, will also take a bow in the passenger car segment with the S80 and XC90. Although Volkswagen has zeroed in on Maharashtra state of India to set up its manufacturing base, it will start sell the Passat through the import route by mid-2007, long before the plant commences commercial production in 2009.

The year will see even face-lifts and leading the way is the new look Fiat Palo, to be rolled out from Fiat’s Indian plant.

With the sales and distribution tie-up with the Tatas and new Palio, Fiat is gearing for a comeback into the Indian market an analysts said. Fiat will also bring in the new Petra during the year, but the big one is the launch of the Grande Punto. Also in the line of face lifts are the Maruti Baleno, the Mahindra Scorpio 2.2, the Honda Accord and the old war horse Tata Sumo. If things go according to plan, Tata Motors may unleash a spanking new Indica later in the year to enforce its domination in the diesel turf. The customers will have an ample choice from the auto hub country of India in the “Car Year 2007�.