Why 2019 will be a bad year for small cars in India

Japanese carmaker Honda said on Sunday it has stopped production of its entry-level hatchback Brio in India, cutting short the vehicle’s over 17-year long stint in the country. The journey of the world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano, too came to a grinding halt last month as Tata Motors didn’t sell or produce a single unit.

Japanese carmaker Honda said on Sunday it has stopped production of its entry-level hatch back Brio in India, cutting short the vehicle’s over 17-year long stint in the country. The journey of the world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano, too came to a grinding halt last month as Tata Motors didn’t sell or produce a single unit.

India wants big: Customer preference has started to shift towards comparatively bigger models, a trend similar to other global markets. In 2018, Alto (with a Rs 2.6-lakh starting price), which was the No. 1 car for 14 straight years, lost its crown to Dzire, Maruti’s compact sedan priced at Rs 5.7 lakh onwards. Although Dzire and its hatchback version, Swift, have outsold Alto for a few months in past years, this is the first time that a sedan has been India’s biggest-selling car for a whole year.

India wants safe: From October 1, all cars sold in India will have to meet stringent safety (crash test) norms. While government regulations were put in place from October 2017, it was applicable on cars ‘launched’ after that date but the two-year grace period for older models ends this year. Also, after March 31, auto companies will be allowed to sell cars without airbags not produce them. For many of these older car models, upgrading may not justify the cost involved and hence they are being phased out.

India wants clean:
 Emission norms for cars will also see an upgrade in April 2020, from the current Bharat Stage IV emission norms to BS-VI norms, jumping an entire level. That’s bad news for some engine lines that will no longer be suitable for the new emission norms — another reason for many cars going off the road this (and early next) year. At least 13 cars are likely to go off the road this year.

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