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2005 will see a car launch every month

January 03, 2005 09:33 IST
Going car shopping in the New Year? Step on those brakes and do not take the plunge till you have assessed the dozen-odd new wheels set to hit the roads in 2005.

Carmakers from Maruti Udyog to General Motors to Honda are dipping into their international portfolios and lining up their latest cars for an Indian launch. If 2004 was the year of facelifts and variants, looks like 2005 will come to be known as the year of fresh launches.

A Delhi-based automobile analyst said while 2004 saw a record number of variant launches, the new models in the pipeline for 2005 were a reflection of manufacturers' desire to offer a model in every segment of the market.

"The Swift from Maruti, for example, will be the next car for those who want to upgrade from the mini-B segment cars like the Alto," he said.

In fact, the premium hatchback segment, which has models like the Getz and Palio, will see hectic activity in the near future.

"This category of cars offers the features of a sedan, and are compact and affordable. This will be the next big change in the market since the mini-B overtook the A category," the analyst added.

Starting with the 'God of small things', Maruti Udyog and its Japanese partner Suzuki have announced plans to launch the Swift. Slated for an early 2005 launch, the Swift is a 'grown-up hatchback' and will take on the Hyundai Getz. Suzuki also plans to introduce the base model, a shorter-wheelbase version of the Grand Vitara, to compete with the likes of the Honda CR-V.

Talking about small sports utility vehicles, Hyundai has announced plans to launch the Tuscon, its version of the compact SUV. Credited with two big launches -- Elantra and Getz -- in 2004, it looks like Hyundai will play the consolidation game in the other segments.

General Motors is all geared up to work on its big

success brand with two launches under the Chevrolet banner. The Daewoo Matiz, a.k.a. Chevrolet Spark, is expected to hit the roads in end-2005 while Kalos, a GM-Daewoo sourced three-box car, and a likely Indigo-competitor, is also likely to hit the road in 2005.

Skoda is set to unleash the Fabia and the new Octavia, based on the Volkswagon A5 platform. Interestingly, Skoda proposes to sell the new Octavia at a premium without phasing out its older cousin, as it has successfully done in the UK.

Still reaping the rewards of the new City's phenomenal performance in the Indian market, Honda will launch the all-new 2005 edition Civic.

The new Civic, which will be launched in India around the same time as its international launch, will lock horns with the Toyota Corolla and establish Honda's presence in another high-growth segment.

Even as Honda is preparing to challenge its bench-mark model, Toyota is ready to launch the Fortuner, based on its new IMV (international multi-utility vehicle) platform.

Geared up to take complete control of the utility vehicle segment, Toyota is also planning to flex its muscles with the Innova, which has the potential to replace its ageing yet best-selling Qualis.

Defying all premature obituaries, Fiat India may launch the Panda in 2005. The Panda, the European Car Of The Year 2004, is a runaway hit in most markets and may repeat its success in India too.

Also on the launch pad are the Palio, which has had a facelift, and possibly the new Multipla, a multi-utility vehicle that drives like a car, through the completely built-up route.

Others like the Renault Logan, a basic, cheap, all-rounder for developing markets and the Toyota Hi-lux pick-up are rumoured to be right around the corner though nobody is talking. Still, the list looks long enough to keep you busy in test drive mode.

Parvathy Ullatil in Mumbai