2013 was not really a great year for the growth of the automobile industry in India. The value of the Indian rupee went to a record low, taxation rules were re-written and it was decided to impose a heavier tax on SUV’s. Only cars and SUV’s whose length was below 4 metres would qualify for the tax benefits. All these factors meant that the segments which are expected to grow are only the compact SUV segment and the compact sedan segment.
In November last-year, at the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda revealed an all-new compact SUV named the Vezel which was expected to be launched in India, and it was supposed to be Honda’s answer to the Renault Duster and the Ford EcoSport, but now we have got to know that Honda has scrapped plans of bringing the Vezel to our shores. The problem was that, the Vezel, was supposed to be launched in India at a price starting from Rs.10 lakhs for the base petrol variant and going all the way up to Rs.16 lakhs for the top-end diesel variant, with this kind of pricing, the Vezel goes way above the compact SUV range and straight into the full blown SUV segment, which defies the whole reason why people love compact SUV’s.
Compact SUV’s which measure less than 4 metres in length get the excise benefit which in turn helps the manufacturer to sell it at a very low price and that is why the people love it so much. If everyone had the financial capability to purchase full blown SUV’s, no one would opt for the compact SUV’s and the whole concept of compact SUV’s would not catch-up in India. The Vezel does not measure less than 4 metres and hence cannot avail the tax benefit, and has to be priced that high. Honda also had plans to load it up with features which were never seen before in a compact SUV and hence justify the high price, but they have now realised that, no matter how much they load it up with features, the people will just not pay that much for a compact SUV, especially given that the Indian consumer is spoilt for choice with so many options now available in that price bracket.
Honda Brio with 18″ inch wheels (image used as an illustration)
Honda has made the right decision of not launching the Vezel, however they do not want to stay away from the compact SUV market and will launch another SUV, which will be based on the Honda Brio. This time around, Honda will make sure that it will be a proper compact SUV, as the Brio platform is a small one, it will be easy to keep the new SUV under 4-metres. Because the Honda Amaze and Mobilio already share the same platform, it should be even cheaper to manufacture. Honda recently launched their range of diesel engines and also the new turbo-petrol V-tec engines, so we can expect these engines in the new SUV. Looks like Honda has everything in place to make a nice little compact SUV. It might take a while though, so we can expect the new SUV to be out by the end of 2016 and Knowing Honda, we can be sure that it will be an excellent car.
Also see – First look at Honda Vezel compact SUV, set for India launch in end-2014
Source – AutoCarIndia