Japanese car manufacturers Honda and Toyota are all set to bring back their premium saloons, the Honda Accord and Toyota Prius by the end of 2016 to rival the upcoming Volkswagen Passat and Skoda Superb. This segment was a rich man’s favorite few years ago. If a wealthy family entered a showroom with a budget of 25 to 35 lakhs at that time, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry were the first offer for them and they were very happy to buy the up market premium saloons. But, the launch of entry-level hatchbacks and sedans from German luxury automakers disrupted their sales. Moreover, the craze for huge SUV’s in the Indian market made the survival of this segment very difficult. The sales, during peak time of the segment was around 8,000 units a year in 2010-11 which went down 2,000 units due to these reasons.
But, the modern day city traffic and realization about the difference between entry-level luxury cars and premium saloons among the Indian buyers led to come back of this segment. The re-launched Honda Accord previously known for its low mileage is now expected to come with a 20 kmpl tag and the new generation Toyota Prius being a hybrid is to return 45 km to a litre. Whereas, the German Volkswagen and Skoda are playing their cards on space and technology.
Differentiation between entry-level luxury cars with big badges and premium saloons is getting clearer according to Ashutosh Gohil, Director of Sales and Marketing Skoda Auto India. “The segment is getting more matured and there is a more defined customer base now. Going forward, good growth for this segment will come from re-entry of other competitors and the novelty factor,” he said.
Experts see the launch of these cars and the competition following it, as a sign of revival of this segment. “We expect the size of the segment to become more than double up to about 5,000 units in 2016 on the back of new launches,” Gaurav Vangaal, senior forecating analyst at IHS automotive said.