By on March 13, 2013

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, a website covering the automobile industry of India.

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10 Comments on “Volkswagen Plans India Specific Models...”

  • avatar

    I don’t think China has quite yet peaked as a market … maybe the growth has peaked, but not the market itself. But, yes, India is a huge opportunity in the long term.

  • avatar

    Given the prevalence of both VW and Toyota in other developing markets, it is surprising that neither have made significant inroads into the Indian market.

    Both companies clearly have experience in building simple but robust vehicles that are suited for road conditions in the developing world.

    Faisal, do you know if there are any unique factors, practical or political, which hinder the popularity of VW in India? Given the proliferation of its numerous tried-and-true designs in China, South Africa and South America, is there any reason why these vehicles cannot be sold in India in its current form?

    I understand that Suzuki through its JV seems to have a significant portion of the market in India. Is that growth simply attributed to simply lucky circumstances, or is there something unique about their products that make them particularly suited for that market?

    • 0 avatar

      Suzuki is able to create new segments. It also offers products to the masses, they have 5-6 small cars on offer, VW has only which is costlier than the costliest Suzuki small car in India.

    • 0 avatar

      Suzuki and Toyota are still bits players in Brazil, Suzuki even more so. The reason is price, neither compete in the lower echolons of the Market, though Toyota is trying it now with the Etios. While new launches in the same category like Hyundai HB20 and Chevy Onix are establishing themselves in the top 5, the Etios is hardly breaking into the top 20 and Toyota is putting out massive marketing campaigns to get it moving. Note to Toyota: drop base price to 27-28k reais to get people in the door. Base mdel with AC can be charged at 31-32k reais. Then it’ll move.

      How is the Etios doing in India? Thanks in advance.

    • 0 avatar

      infinitime, my reasons as to why VW and Toyota are struggling to rake in volumes:

      1. Price: yes, as Faisal mentioned, the Polo or the Toyota ‘Liva’ aren’t as good a value proposition as the Suzukis or Hyundais.

      2. Engines: The fiat sourced 1.3 MultiJet is the best small car diesel out there – used by everyone including Suzuki, Chevrolet, Tata, Fiat. The VW 1.2 3 pot diesel sucks in comparison. The Toyota’s D4D is better.

      The suzuki K series 1.2 petrols and the Hyundai 1.2 VTVT engines are also better – more efficient, far more refined.

      3. A.S.S – VW unproven still in India.There’s a wait and watch approach.

  • avatar

    I would also look at repair costs. It’s one thing to be cheap out the door but wholely another when it comes after the warranty ends. With the average Indian road beating the crap out of a car it’s vital to be able to keep it running for cheap.

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