The inaugural day of the ninth Auto Expo 2008 witnessed the launch and unveiling of several new cars in different segments by most of the giants in the automobile sector. While General Motors launched its premium SUV Chevrolet Captiva, Mitsubishi Motors and Hindustan Motors Ltd (HML) jointly unveiled four models. Fiat India Automobiles Pvt. Ltd (FIAPL) unveiled its proposed offerings for the Indian market, which include models like Linea, Grande Punto, Fiat 500 and Bravo.
Mercedes-Benz launched a C-Class model, while Volkswagen announced the launch of Jetta, which would be available in showrooms by mid-2008. Maruti Suzuki also unveiled its Concept A-Star and Splash Concept cars.
Volkeswagen announced its plans to expand its dealership in other states besides Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. It would invest Rs 2,400 crore in its Pune manufacturing unit as well.
Commenting on the Chevrolet Captiva, Karl Slym, President and Managing Director, General Motors India, said, “The Captiva has been warmly welcomed in markets around the world due to its combination of distinctive styling, refinement, best-in-class safety, comfort and versatility and powerful yet frugal diesel power-train. The Captiva is everything our customers across India have come to associate with the Chevrolet nameplate.” The Chevrolet Captiva has an ex-showroom price of around Rs 17 lakh.
Fiat’s Linea led the line-up of other cars from the Fiat stable, while Fiat Palio was introduced with the much awaited, world-class, 1.3 multi-jet diesel engine. These cars will be marketed through joint Tata-Fiat dealers spread across the country. The launch of the Linea and other new cars will be supported with the augmentation of the Tata-Fiat dealership network from its current total of 65 outlets to more than 100 eventually.
FIAPL, a JV between Fiat and Tata Motors, would manufacture Linea and Grande Punto at its Ranjangaon plant in India, while the Fiat 500 and the Bravo are being considered to be imported as completely built units (CBUs). The year 2008 will see Fiat commence the build-up of the re-establishment of the brand in India.
The Ranjangaon plant will see a combined investment of Rs 4,000 crore from both Fiat and Tata Motors. The plant is expected to exceed an overall output of 100,000 cars and 200,000 engines and transmissions. Apart from Fiat branded cars, the plant will also manufacture next generation Tata cars. Both Linea and Grande Punto will be rolled out from this plant later this year, while the plant is currently producing Palio.
Unveiling the Linea, Rajeev Kapoor, President and CEO, FIAPL, said, “Linea was recently launched in the European market and has received great response. The car is the winner of the Autobest 2008 award, which has representatives from 15 European countries. This car will spearhead Fiat's entry into India and will be manufactured with a high percentage of localisation. It will be launched in the third quarter of 2008-09.”
The four new cars of Mitsubishi Motors and HML include i-MiEV, Lancer Evolution, Outlander and Montero. These products were unveiled by Ravi Santhanam, MD, HML, and Katsuya Maeda, GM-Product Planning, Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Japan.
Tata Motors, whose people’s car priced at Rs 1 lakh is much awaited, is also showcasing a wide range of 17 models in cars, utility vehicles, trucks and buses at the Expo. The company also launched the new Sumo Grande, a compact sedan Indigo CS and the Indica Direct Injection Common Rail (DICOR) version, which will be progressively available in showrooms through January and February. The new generation Indica, which goes on sale in the latter part of 2008, was also unveiled at the Expo. Also on display, for the first time in India, is the Xenon XT (Cross Terrain), a lifestyle pick-up to be launched later in the year.