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Compact sedan segment moves into fast lane

- SUMAN BASHYAL

The compact sedan segment has become one of the fastest growing segments in Nepal’s auto market due to affordable pricing and easy parking. Auto dealers are competing fiercely in this segment to get a slice of the pie. Imports of the sub-4-metre sedan have jumped 84 percent. A total of 671 units of these cars were imported in 2014 compared to 365 units in 2013, according the Birgunj Customs Office. Maruti Suzuki and Honda were the only brands in this segment till last year, but three new brands, namely Hyundai, Tata and Ford, have come aboard with very competitive prices. Volkswagen will also be entering this segment next year.
Ford’s authorised distributor in Nepal, GO Automobiles, recently launched the Figo Aspire compact sedan in three variants, priced between Rs2.49 million and Rs3.49 million. The company said it had received 45 bookings within a month of its launch. The car comes with 1.2-litre petrol, 1.5-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engine options.
“Those who are seeking an upgrade from hatchbacks are shifting towards compact sedans,” said Sunil Chhetri, deputy general manager of the company, adding that they were receiving encouraging response for the newly launched Figo Aspire.
Chhetri added that auto manufacturers in India had been able to price these cars competitively as sub-4-metre cars get excise duty
concessions.
Sipradi Trading, the authorised distributor of Tata in Nepal, said it had sold 200 units of the Zest compact sedan within seven months. The company launched the car in seven variants, priced from Rs2.49 million to Rs3.12 million. The Zest’s engine option includes 1.2-litre petrol and 1.3-litre diesel. “Tata Motors was the pioneer in compact sedans, but we failed to make an attempt in this segment till last year. But we are getting overwhelming response from customers for the Zest,” said Prabin Khatiwada, head of the passenger vehicles business unit at Sipradi.  The company aims to sell 500 units of the Zest this year.
Rupesh Sharma Bhatta, assistant general manager of sales and marketing at Laxmi Intercontinental, the authorised distributor of Hyundai in Nepal, said that the Hyundai Xcent compact sedan was one of the major contributors in the overall segment.
“This compact sedan has a 10 percent share in the overall segment,” said Bhatta, adding that fuel efficiency, boot space, ease of driving and ease of parking were the reasons behind the increasing popularity of compact sedans. The Hyundai Xcent is being marketed as a car for those who value style, space, economy and technological features. The car is available in three variants and is priced between Rs2.65 million and Rs3.29 million. “The Xcent is priced very competitively and has various safety features and a stylish interior and exterior,” added Bhatta.
Elated by the response, Maruti Suzuki’s authorised distributor CG MotoCorp recently launched the Dzire facelift compact sedan with various updates in the interior and exterior. According to the company, an average of 40 units of the Dzire compact sedan are being sold monthly in the domestic market.
“The Dzire compact sedan has been leading in this segment in the domestic auto market since its launch four years ago,” said Karan Choudhari, executive director of the company. Priced between Rs2.82 million and Rs3.12 million, the Suzuki Dzire is available in 1.2-litre petrol and 1.3-litre diesel engine options.
The company claims that the diesel version of the Dzire is India’s most fuel efficient car returning a fuel efficiency of 26.59 kmpl. The petrol engine version provides a mileage of 20.85 kmpl while churning out 83 bhp and 115 Nm. “What we found is that young people prefer hatchbacks, while mature and style-conscious people want compact sedans,” said Choudhari.
The Honda Amaze is another compact sedan which has been competing in the sub-4-metre segment since 2013. “Within two years, we sold over 300 units of the Amaze which has been playing a significant role in increasing the market share of Honda,” said Lomus Manandhar, manager of the cars division at Syakar Trading Company, the authorised distributor of Honda in Nepal.
He added that sub-4-metre vehicles were doing well due to lack of parking spaces in cities like Kathmandu. Powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine, the Amaze is available in four variants and is priced between Rs2.71 million and Rs3.45 million.
Likewise, German brand Volkswagen will be making a foray into this growing segment with the new compact sedan (NCS) by mid-2016. “We have just heard that Volkswagen is also rolling out the NCS which will have advanced features. The pricing of the new compact sedan will be very competitive,” said Bibek Bijukchhe, chief executive officer of Pooja International, the authorised distributor of Volkswagen in Nepal. “With many brands eying this segment, competition will be stiff in the coming years.”

Published: 2015-09-16 09:24:49