This week in Auto: Fiat nearly out of market; Mahindra-owned SsangYong powers ahead despite losses
There were several new model launches during the week but all of them catered to the premium and luxury segment. The launches have come despite the ongoing slump in the market. The week also saw news of one of the earliest brand entrants in India’s automotive space going out of the market after years of mounting losses. Losses seem to have also plagued another venture through a cross-border acquisition, but the positives have just started to roll in. More on this in the later part of the story but here is the complete look at the top stories automotive of the week:
Yamaha launches MT-15 at Rs 1.36 lakh
Yamaha Motor India on March 14 launched its new 155 cc bike MT-15 priced at Rs 1.36 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). The bike comes with liquid-cooled four-stroke engine mated to a six-speed transmission.
Other features include single channel anti-lock braking system (ABS) and fuel injected variable valve actuation (VBA). The company already sells MT-09 in the country since 2015.
Harley Davidson launches two new bikes
Harley-Davidson added two new motorcycles to its line-up — the Forty-Eight Special and Street Glide Special. While the Street Glide Special maintains its price as the previous generation, the Forty-Eight Special has been hiked by Rs 40000.
The Forty-Eight Special retains most of its looks, such as the peanut tank, fat and stubby wheels as well as the iconic Harley Davidson V-twin engine. However, it gets taller handlebars and new graphics for the 2019 iteration. It carries over the 102CC V-twin, air-cooled engine from the previous generation Forty-Eight. It makes 97Nm of peak torque at 3,500 rpm.
Mercedes-Benz C 43 AMG Coupe debuts at Rs 75 lakh
Luxury car market leader Mercedes-Benz has launched the C 43 AMG Coupe in the India market at a starting price of Rs 75 lakh (ex-showroom).
This is second of the 10 launches that the German brand has promised for the year. The first was the V Class launched in January.
Retail sales continue to perform poorly
Despite the mouth-watering discounts offered to buyers, automobile dealers are struggling to convert inquiries into actual sales over the past five months.
Inventory days (unsold stock with the dealer) have risen to two months for cars and three months for bikes, while there is a working capital squeeze due to reluctance from banks to lend.
Fiat brand nearly out of the Indian market
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) did not produce any vehicle under the Fiat brand from its Pune-based plant in February raising speculations the company plans to exit India amid sustained poor performance.
According to data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), FCA India produced zero Fiat-branded cars from the Ranjangaon, Maharashtra plant in February. However, the plant continues to make the Compass SUV under the Jeep brand, owned by FCA India
Maserati Quattroporte launched at Rs 1.74 crore
Maserati, the Fiat Group-owned Italian luxury carmaker, has announced the launch of its model year 2019 Quattroporte diesel in India. The Quattroporte’s GranLusso version is available at a starting price of Rs 1.74 crore and the Gransport version at Rs 1.79 crore (ex-showroom Delhi).
The latest version gets new colours, wheel designs and interior veneers, redesigned gearshift lever and Pieno Fiore natural leather interiors. The Quattroporte is fitted with 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine
SsangYong to invest $ 1 billion in new products
SsangYong Motor Company, the South Korean unit of utility vehicle specialist Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), will invest 1 trillion Korean won (about $ 1 billion) to fund its appetite for new models.
Under M&M, SsangYong (SYMC) has already invested more than 1 trillion Korean won since its acquisition in 2011. Current funding will take care of its capital expenditure needs for the next three-to-four years, a senior M&M executive confirmed.
Though M&M’s bet on SsangYong has not born any consistent financial fruit for the Mumbai-based sports utility vehicle specialist even eight years after the acquisition, M&M has brought home some valuable learnings.
Through its nearly 75 percent holding in SsangYong M&M controls the operations at the Korean company. Decisions with regards to products, product segments, engines, sourcing of components, target sales markets, new technology development are explored jointly.
And this is showing in the way M&M is developing its own products. Its two new-gen products, Marazzo and XUV300, have been influenced by inputs outside of the company. The XUV300 especially is based on the SsangYong platform. Both models are received well in the market with drivers experiencing a marked upgrade in the performance as well as fit and finish.
Mahindra in return develops engines that are to be supplied to SsangYong. These engines are used in markets outside of India which not only means they are emission complaint in those markets but they also meet the performance expectations in those highly competitive markets.
Both companies are working on next generation technology involving electric and hybrid. Through its lower development costs M&M is able to supply SsangYong with next generation EV technology. The electric version of the SsangYong Tivoli will debut in 2020. The technology of this EV is being developed by M&M.
M&M focus has always been on utility vehicles. Its focus even drove it to enter the race to acquire Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford though M&M was interested only in Land Rover. The two coveted Brit brands eventually went to Tata Motors.