Blog: Dave LeggettAutocar India

Dave Leggett | 15 December 2004

I was flicking through the December issue of Autocar India this morning over coffee. It never fails to cheer me up. Even the stuff included about two-wheelers is an excellent read (nice story this month about a bike tour in the hills - 'ghats' - outside Mumbai). And there are tales of races, expeditions in the Himalayas, an interview with Skoda's local boss and the big product 'scoop' is Toyota's Fortuner SUV based on IMV platform (shared with Innova MUV). Looks like a nice job. 

I see also that the ancient Maruti 800 was India's best-selling car in October and by quite a margin too - 11,633 sales versus 9,844 units for its nearest rival, the Maruti Alto. There must have been an incentive or something, it's been losing out to the Alto this year. But it just goes to show: there's life in the old dog yet.

And publisher/editor Hormazd Sorabjee doesn't mince his words concerning Fiat's problems in the Indian market. Fiat, strong in small cars, might have been expected to do well in India of course. But Hormazd draws attention to a number of 'goof-ups', beginning with the decision to partner Premier Automobiles Ltd (PAL).

Uno was perfect for India, but a giant order backlog developed, distribution was botched and Fiat's reputation was in tatters (and it is still recovering from that). Palio was a similar missed opportunity he says. And he reckons Fiat should sell part of its Indian affiliate to an Indian company: 'Hyundai is a good example of how an Indian at the top has made a difference.' I hope they are reading Autocar India in Turin. Fiat is underperforming badly in India according to sales figures and it shouldn't be.


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