The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Honda Fit to take on rivals

New Delhi, April 7: Honda Motor Company of Japan plans to launch its Fit sub-compact model in India by the middle of this year through its local subsidiary.

The Fit is a hot-selling international model and is badged as the Jazz in Europe.

Branded as the New City with a sticker price between Rs 7-8 lakh, the local version of Fit will be fitted with the high tech I-DSi engine, which provides greater fuel economy and engine power. Also, there will be superior air-conditioning, stereo AM/FM radio & tape and power steering.

The local unit of the Japanese automaker, Honda Siel Cars India Ltd (HSCI), a joint venture between Honda Motor Co and Siel Ltd, currently manufactures and markets three variants of the popular City model and luxury car Honda Accord priced at around Rs 14 lakh.

‘The localisation content is around 70 per cent,” sources said. “This helped to keep down manufacturing costs.”

Auto analysts said the firm has priced this model lower in order to help it succeed against competition in this band. “The Rs 7-8 lakh price band shows that the automaker has factored in all the local market dynamics,” an analyst said.

“This is something that General Motors has not been able to do and this reflects in their lower sales volumes.”

Honda officials claim the New City will be roomier than any other sub-compact model and will be available in two engine versions — the 1.3 litre and 1.5-litre.

The New City will compete with General Motor's Opel Astra and the Mitsubishi Lancer.

The automaker had clocked higher sales for the 2002-03 financial. Sales surged up by 22 per cent to 13,300 units from 10,920 units in the corresponding last financial 2001-02.

The firm had reported higher sales volumes for the month of March, 2003, mainly due to price cuts following the 8 per cent excise rate cut in the annual 2003-04 budget.

For the month of March, sales leapt up by 24 per cent to 1,968 units against 1,581 units in the corresponding month last fiscal.

Domestic sales of cars and utility vehicles combined were flat in 2001-02 financial but have risen to around 6.5 per cent in 2002-03 on the back of price cuts and discounts.

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