A new car or just a car with a new name?

By Praveen Kumar S Published on Oct 24, 2017 05:05 PM IST

India is a weird place to buy cars. This is a country that has a vast base of prospective customers who can be targeted by manufacturers because, quite simply, Indians are spending more nowadays. By the way, I am not talking about GST.

I used the term weird because more often than not, Indians buy similar cars that use the same mechanicals but are named differently. Where manufacturers win is when they make their customers believe that their cars are completely 'new' and do not have any resemblance to their other product.


A case in point is the current crop of entry-level hatchbacks and sub-four metre sedans. Everything, ranging from Swift and Swift Dzire, Brio and Amaze, Tiago and Tigor, Bolt and Zest, Figo and Figo Aspire are marketed in such a way that they are absolutely 'different' from each other. I suspect the addition of air-con blower for the rear passengers is the cause for this and, people just gulp these products by the bucket load.

But they are not different, for they use the same mechanicals and are very similar, unless you believe that shelling out more money for a bit of boot space is a very good investment.


I also do not understand why there is such a big difference in prices of these cars. Sure, I do accept it is not easy to lengthen the wheelbase of the car and is not easy to add a boot just like that. All this should not compromise the structure of the car because safety is very important. However, manufacturers can reduce the economies of scale in many other ways, especially since they do not have to go in search of new engines or transmission or suspension or a dashboard or switches, door handles, spare wheel, tyres, seats and I can go on.

The nomenclature is very different too. Manufacturers are hell bent in stating that their cars are different. Instead of calling a car - let us name it X - as X hatchback and X sedan and X estate, Somehow, manufacturers have got it into their heads that if cars differ in body shape, even if they only got slimmer, they should be given a new name.

Think about the amount of money that goes into the branding of the new name and then in the advertisements and the whole lot. That money can instead be spent to offer customers the full safety kit in all variants of the cars and variants in terms of other kits provided.


Openness is what is missing in our country. They are not honest to tell people, 'Look, we have got a platform and a couple of engines and we will be offering a hatchback, a sub-four metre sedan, a bigger sedan (for those who want), a bigger hatchback (again), a pseudo crossover that looks like an SUV, a people carrier or as people like to call it an MPV (which actually is just a term for estates), and pick your choice.'

If manufacturers do that, it will result in a reduction in their profits. Sure, not many are making huge profits, but that can easily be reduced by stopping all the expenses that come with giving a new name for a car, for its branding and the publicity.


The fault is with our buying public, as well. People go into a showroom and buy a car because they like it. The new generation buys vehicles after a lot of research, yes, but word-of-mouth information influences their decision. If people go into a showroom and question the personnel regarding something, their query will get reported. Go into a showroom and ask what really is different in the cars that have been mentioned and say that you prefer to save a lot of money and just stick with what you want. It will get notified and it will make the manufacturers think.

Just think about change this could bring about if people decide to value their earnings more.