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Carmakers rev up launches to get out of the rut

Automakers in India have lined up more than three dozen product launches, including upgrades, for the next six to nine months, as they seek to revive sentiment in a market that is going through its worst phase amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Year 2020 was to see a large number of product upgrades because of new BS-VI emission standards. There were also 21 all-new vehicles lined up. The lockdown pushed the launches back, resulting in a packed schedule for the rest of the year — an average one launch a week.

Industry trackers predict a minimum 20% decline in automobile sales in India in 2020. “It’s a Catch-22 situation for carmakers right now,” said Gaurav Vangaal, an associate director at market research firm IHS Markit. Demand will be weak, but new models could change the mood and “carmakers are desperately hoping for this,” he said. New products are expected to have aggressive price tags and easy financing options to attract buyers.

An all-new small car is the most anticipated launch from Maruti Suzuki, while Hyundai Motor is set to bring in a new-generation elite i20. Others include SUVs from Kia and Renault, new gen Honda City, SUVs Gravitas from Tata Motors and Gloster from MG Motor.

Another dozen and half luxury-car models too will hit the roads soon. On Tuesday, Czech Skoda Auto launched the Karoq, a Jeep Compass rival, and upgrades of Superb saloon and Rapid sedan. Two high-performance sports cars from Mercedes-Benz will be available in showrooms from Wednesday.

More than a dozen of the launches this year would be SUVs.

Automakers expect digital mediums to assume a bigger role in automobile sales. Zac Hollis, brand director, Skoda India, told ET interest level had been rising.

May 28, 2020

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