Both Honda and Toyota have reiterated a desire to reintroduce premium luxury saloons for wooing customers at the higher end of the spectrum.
Honda is slated to launch the all new Accord over the next year while Toyota will be launching its all new Prius as per company sources. These cars will be directly competing with Skoda and Volkswagen which will be unveiling the all new Superb and Passat cars respectively. These companies are going all out to lure wealthy Indians with luxurious saloons once more. This segment had been a little neglected by both Toyota and Honda owing to an overdose of entry level sedans and hatchbacks from German luxury car makers and the lack of viable diesel options which dented customer numbers as well.
Both Japanese giants will be betting on heightened fuel efficiency to woo customers. The Accord should offer 20 kilometres per litre while the Prius Hybrid may well take this up to a whopping 40 kilometers per litre. Volkswagen and Skoda, on the other hand, will be relying on technology and greater space to lure customers. These new launches should be priced within the INR 25 and 35 lakh brackets.
Till a few years back, these premium saloons witnessed huge demand from families and established businessmen seeking comfort and elegance within this price band. However, the launch of entry level models by Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW in the same range led to an erosion of the customer base with people opting for the luxury badges in place of vehicles like the Camry or Accord. However, the market is now open to differentiation, thereby paving the way for the return of these luxury saloons to the market.
Segmentation between entry level hatchbacks and sedans from luxury German brands and premium saloons is based on technology, features and space. Sales in this segment have gone down to around 2000 units annually from the high of 8, 000 units in the 2010-11 period. However, automobile industry experts forecast a future rise and higher potential over the next few months for this segment. Forecasts peg growth to around 5000 units by 2016 on the back of new launches.