While Volkswagen is soaring high in most countries, its India innings have been far from successful. Everybody keeps talking about China and India being the next big automobile markets in the world. The truth is, China has already peaked, while India has a long way to go. For instance, Volkswagen sold 2.8 million units in China last year, while in India, they sold less than 100,000 (which is their plant capacity).
We all know the Polo and Volkswagen sells the Polo sedan in India, badged as the Vento. In India, cars under 4-meters in length, having an engine capacity of less than 1200cc (gasoline) and 1500cc (diesel) are subjected to lesser excise duty. Savings can be in excess of $1000, which is crucial for mass market cars. Thus Volkswagen has decided to reduce the length of the Vento to under 4-meters (rendered above). The regular Vento measures 4.38-meters in length.
Volkswagen will have to give the compact Vento smaller engines. Currently the Vento draws power from 1.6-litre gasoline and diesel engines. The company could use the 1.2-litre TSI engine which will soon be launched in the Polo TSI. Volkswagen is also considering the development of a compact SUV and MPV on the Polo/Vento platform (PQ25). The company is working on a 1.5-litre diesel engine, which will help them to get their diesel cars classify as small cars in India.
Now chopping off the boot to reduce the length is not a first as many car makers have already done it. Mahindra is developing a sub 4-metre Verito (Logan), while Maruti Suzuki has launched the Swift sedan (DZire) as a sub 4-metre vehicle. This trend of developing vehicles under 4-metres is also seen in the compact SUV segment, where Ford is soon going to launch the under 4-meters EcoSport.
Faisal Ali Khan is the editor of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the automobile industry of India.