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Corporate Apr 19, 2013

From car to clunker: Ten biggest duds of the year are…

By Ashish K. Mishra

What makes a car a clunker? Is it bad design, unappealing features, wrong pricing...or just plain bad luck. This is a question most car makers have to face for at least some models.

Over the last few years, as auto sales zoomed, manufacturers have scored with many successful models, but the number of duds has also risen. With the financial year just ended, it seems like a good time to take a step back and review how some of the models have fared in the Indian market. With data from Team BHP, here's what we gathered. We start with ten cars that fared badly and will follow up with ten winners in a later post. All numbers are for sales in the Apr' 2012 to March' 13 period.

Chevrolet sold only 7, 789 units of the car. AFP

Chevrolet sold only 7, 789 units of the car. AFP

Chevrolet Spark
Chevrolet sold only 7, 789 units of the car. The company says the vehicle has reached its end of life-cycle.

Sure, the Spark was first introduced in the Indian market in 2007. But not once in this time, has it managed to sell more than 50,000 cars (per year).

Last year Chevrolet introduced a new Spark (with a face lift), but that doesn't seem to have helped. In sharp contrast, Hyundai was able to extract better volumes from the Santro, which sold 43,829 units.
Skoda Fabia

Skoda sold 3,343 units of the Fabia. The new generation Fabia is far cheaper compared to its earlier avatar which had failed to bring in volumes.

Petrol/diesel models, new features- nothing seems to have worked.

Petrol/diesel models, new features- nothing seems to have worked.

Petrol/diesel models, new features- nothing seems to have worked. Actually, most customers are not even clear if the Fabia is a premium or a budget hatch. Or perhaps, is Skoda struggling with its poor after sales legacy?

Fiat Punto

Punto continues its journey in India as a segment laggard. Fiat sold 5,425 units. The car has been on the shelf for more than four years, but customers have never really cared for it.

Fiat sold 5,425 units.

Fiat sold 5,425 units.

Many who bought it were put off by poor after sales service and niggling defects in the product.
Renault Pulse
Or is it the Nissan Micra? Sales: 5, 588 units.

Renault Pulse

Renault Pulse

Launched in early 2012, the car has been a non-starter. Considering the success the company has had with the Duster, the Pulse should probably benefit from some good brand positioning.

New Ford Fiesta
A global bestseller for Ford, the new Fiesta never really caught on in India. The company sold 1,957 units.So, what's keeping customers away?

A global bestseller for Ford, the new Fiesta never really caught on in India.

A global bestseller for Ford, the new Fiesta never really caught on in India.

For one, the price. Very few want to pay Rs 10 lakh and more for a Ford Fiesta when they could buy the Verna instead.
Maruti SX4
Sales: 6, 707 units. Men are back? Okay, with that campaign, the less said, the better.

Men are back? Okay, with that campaign, the less said, the better.

Men are back? Okay, with that campaign, the less said, the better.

On a serious note, the Dzire and Toyota's Etios killed the market for the SX4.
Maruti Kizashi
Rs. 16 lakh and more for a Maruti- Forget it!

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Rs. 16 lakh and more for a Maruti- Forget it!

Launched with a lot of fanfare, the Kizashi has been a perennial dud in India. Maruti sold just 188 units. Last we heard is that they have stopped importing the vehicle considering that there are no buyers.
Nissan Evalia
The Nissan Evalia was launched with the hope that it would be the Toyota Innova-beater. Nissan was hoping to sell around 2,000 units of the vehicle every month. But it has managed to sell 1, 394 units in the whole year.

The Nissan Evalia was launched with the hope that it would be the Toyota Innova-beater.

The Nissan Evalia was launched with the hope that it would be the Toyota Innova-beater.

Why did it not do well? I guess we don't like vans very much. Also, brand awareness is very low. No, Ranbir Kapoor didn't help.
Tata Safari
In a segment which registered a year on year growth of about 60 percent with total sales of 5,50,000 utility vehicles, the Safari + Safari Storme sold just 13, 000 units last year.

Picture Courtesy: Wkimedia Commons

Picture Courtesy: Wkimedia Commons

Safari looks absolutely dated compared to its peers XUV 500 and the Renault Duster. Here's a game - play spot the difference between Safari circa 1999 and Safari Storme 2013.
Tata Aria
This model has been a disaster in the market from day one. Tata sold just 838 units of the Aria in the last 12 months.

Launched in 2010 at upwards of Rs 14 lakh, the Aria was rejected by Indian customers

Launched in 2010 at upwards of Rs 14 lakh, the Aria was rejected by Indian customers

Launched in 2010 at upwards of Rs 14 lakh, the Aria was rejected by Indian customers. I heard from a dealer in Mumbai is that he had to sell his test vehicle at a discount of over 60 percent.

Ashish Mishra writes for Forbes India


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