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|January 16, 1998||
Small is Beautiful!
Daewoo shows off 'jeans among cars'Kevin James in New Delhi Global automobile giants, who once thought they could change the Indians preference for small cars by introducing their range of midsize family cars in the Indian market, have finally realised that small cars are what sell in India.
The latest auto multinational company to join this bandwagon is the South Korea chaebol Daewoo Motors, which has announced plans to introduce in India its newly developed small car, popularly known as D’Arts.
The Daewoo minicar, which the company has codenamed M100, is expected to commence trial production in India in October 1998. The car is slated for launch in the Korean market in February-March this year, following its launch in Europe in mid-1998.
Young, cute, and fashionable, the M100 is described as the "jeans among the cars". "Like jeans, the M100 is supposed to represent a special lifestyle," claimed Daewoo Motors India chief S G Awasthi. The minicar is the perfect car for the young and the young at heart, said the company officials while unveiling their mini wonder at the ongoing Auto Expo '98 in New Delhi.
Daewoo’s minicar is a five-door hatchback and includes non-jamming doors to take on impact and a state-of-the-art two-stage collapsible steering. The addition of collapsible steering makes M100 different from the other small cars. It also has a child safety door locks on the rear doors for additional security.
The M100 is fitted with a multipoint fuel-injection engine, which, incidentally, no other in the small segment possesses. Its 800 cc engine delivers a whopping power output of 52 bhp at 6000 rpm (rotation per minute).
According to Awasthi, Daewoo plans to offer two variations of its small car in India initially. Though this car is known the world over as D’Arts, in India, it will be given a different name.
Awasthi said that the company was planning to sell about 60,000 units of M100 during the first year of its launch. Though he refused to divulge any information on the price front, often the most important aspect in price-conscious India, he hinted that the car will be priced competitively. This would put it between Rs 300,000 to 500,000.
Daewoo's D’Arts will be third front in the small car war which is set to begin this year. The small car market at present is overwhelmingly dominated by the Maruti (in collaboration with Suzuki), which controls 80 per cent of India's Rs 100 billion market. The Maruti stable rolls out the Maruti 800 cc (the market leader) and the Zen. Also present in a small way is the Fiat's Uno, which has plans to push up its sales.
The newcomers will be the Tatas, who have announced that their minicar will be launched in September or October this year, while the Hyunadi’s Santro too is expected this year.
With its existing models and the newcomers, the small car segment is all set to witness a no-holds barred competition in the Indian market as 1998 draws to an end. Watch this space!
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