When Ford started getting serious about India, it was initially recycled Fiestas-r-us; its current hit figo is a mildly done over previous generation though you can now buy the latest one as well, for more money. Maruti kept the ancient 1980s Alto in the mix for over 20 years alongside more current models, Hyundai and Nissan use India as an export hub for entry level models like the Pixo and Micra and the i10 and i20. So Peugeot is returning to the market with cars like the 107? Nope. The plan is to start with the D-segment 508 and maybe even export it some time.
It seems a brave move to pile in at the premium end of the market with a 170,000-unit plant, way up on the volumes initially planned when those more likely to be perceived as premium, like Mercedes, BMW and VW, began with far smaller capacity. On the other hand, this is India, where a starter car is a Nano and I have seen local press refer to the locally assembled Honda Civic sedan as a ‘premium automobile’. Peugeot has been here before, with a local venture with one-time Fiat assembler Premier Automobiles but ended up building only a few thousand 309s before labour and other problems sent ’em packing. Better luck this time.
Also Indian and ambitious: Mahindra’s plan to export its new XUV500 SUV widely using, sensibly, the established Ssangyong dealer network inherited with the recent purchase of a majority stake in said Korean SUV specialist. Ssangyongs may look hideous to some eyes but they’re not bad as vehicles and M&M seems to be moving fast to get out some new products with decent distribution arrangements courtesy of its new unit. One to watch.
Saab‘s 29 August production restart hoped-for date came and went but the struggling automaker, which hasn’t built anything since about April, is still with us and, every time we think they’re toast, another rabbit is pulled from the hat, as colleague Simon Warburton puts it. His most recent reports are here and here.
There was more talk of Aston Martin doing something with Maybach – would that not be a good fit? – and the Frankfurt previews continued to roll in, including a nice rework of Fiat’s cute little Panda. They claim its third gen but it looks more like a comprehensive mid-life facelift to me…
Have a nice weekend.
Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com