For car manufacturers in India, it has always been about grabbing attention of buyers by introducing cars that are a) good looking, b) fuel efficient and c) affordable. Almost all the OEM's try their best to fulfil this criteria but there are only a few who emerge as winners. But here we are talking about one segment in particular, which has not quite done well this past year - the D or executive passenger car segment.
There have been a host of launches in this segment over the past years and we've seen segment leaders change hands quickly. Who can forget the Honda Civic which sold close to 17000 units in the year it was launched (2006), only to lose out to Toyota who promised more than a car with looks. It promised low ownership costs and the Corolla Altis spiked sales charts for the Japanese company. By this time however, there were a lot many competitors in the market - the Chevrolet Cruze being the strongest.
But today it's a different ball game altogether. The Cruze lost all the pizzaz it once had, owing to the incoming competition as well as lack of updation. The company sold only 1812 units in 2013-14 compared to close to 4000 units in 2012-13. Even the Volkswagen Passat shared a similar fate and hence was ousted as an outright competitor. The winner however, in this segment lately has been the Hyundai Elantra.
The Elantra was certainly under threat when Skoda brought back the legend - the Octavia. However, even the new avatar of the Octi could not prevent Hyundai from winning this race as it topped the sales charts in this segment by selling 4347 units. Though that isn't much, one can see that there is in fact a demand for the premium sedans and that is why we will soon see Toyota bringing out the facelift of the Corolla Altis to pack in an extra punch.
So, though the segment shrank by almost 28% in 2013-14, car manufacturers are betting big for the future of their products. They may not bring in new cars for the time being but they will bring in updates on their existing models.
The Toyota Corolla Altis will be the latest offering in this segment and it has been given a significant update not only in terms of looks but also the features that will be on offer.
Come May, both Hyundai and Skoda will have their hands full as Toyota has managed to give the Corolla Altis a proper update. The cars are evenly balanced in terms of features and the engines they will be offered in but the price will be the determining factor of who wins this battle.
Hyundai has already proved that it is the segment leader but the Skoda Octavia is a Legend and already has a fan following. In this scenario, the all-new Toyota Corolla Altis will have the advantage of going one up, but will it succeed?
Here is a brief overview of all the three cars