Over the past few months, Volkswagen has been seen stepping up its efforts in the Indian market. While the concentration at present is on building a strong and widespread dealer body, the German giant is betting big on its Up!-based hatchback which is a sub-B segment car and will compete with the likes of the Hyundai i10 and Maruti A-star. VW is expecting to sell close to 100,000 Up! units in India.
Instead of opting for a rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive car (like the Tata Nano),the Up! Will feature a traditional front-wheel-drive layout to save costs. Critical components like the transmission, transaxles and other bits and pieces can be shared with other VW cars like the Polo and hence the savings are enormous. An ultra-efficient 1-litre petrol is expected to be the main engine for the Up! but sources reveal that a compact three-cylinder, 1-litre TDI engine is also planned. There is even talk of a 800cc petrol for the bottom end of the range and the existing 1.2 TSI petrol and the soon-to-be launched 1.2 TDI diesel for the top end.
Pricing for the Up! is expected to be 75 percent of the price of the Polo, which means an entry level price in the Rs 3 lakh bracket. India is a key market for the Up!, however it will first be launched in Europe in early 2011, and in India towards the end of 2011.
The immediate task at hand for VW is the successful launch of the Polo. Judging by the tepid response to the Skoda Fabia, VW is worried about meeting its India target of 25,000 units a year. To ensure the success of the Polo VW has put a target price of Rs 4 lakh for the base model with the naturally aspirated 1.2-litre engine.
VW is bullish on the Polo saloon as well (which will be named after a wind) and expects to sell 25,000 units of the saloon as well. The Polo saloon will compete with the Honda City and is expected with state-of-the-art petrol and diesel engines. The Jetta too is expected to get a new range of engines by April 2010 to meet the new BS IV emission norms. The ageing 1.6 petrol could be replaced with a TSI motor and the PD diesel will be switched to common-rail.
The new Passat (code: B7) will be launched at next year’s Geneva Show and is expected in India towards the end of 2010. Before that the Beetle is expected in September this year and its introduction is more of a brand-building exercise as sales are not expected to cross double- digits.
For VW, India has the most potential after China and it’s no surprise that the German giant is putting its entire weight behind the sub-continent.
* Up!-based hatchback to be main model
* New Passat in late 2010
* New engines for Jetta
* Rs 4 lakh target price for Polo