AL Intercentury Luxura spotted in Chennai

As reported quite often in this blog and everywhere else, the Commercial Vehicle space in the Indian market has evolved in the past few years. The bus segment in particular was given a shot in the arm in the form of Volvos and it has not looked back ever since. The erstwhile coaches by Tata and Ashok Leyland suddenly felt that the death-knell for their monopoly has been rung and it’s time for them to roll up their sleeves. One of the many models that were conceived to compete with Volvo B7R was the Intercentury Luxura, the body of which was built by Irizar-TVS and the chassis provided by Ashok Leyland. Though the model was launched with much fanfare at the 2006 Auto Expo and was displayed at a couple of auto expos, it had never seen the light of the day completely, the recent economic recession notwithstanding. Though there were reports of trial versions being used by APSRTC and a few other private operators, except for one or two rare sightings, absolutely none of these buses were spotted elsewhere.

Thats why, when I saw this model a couple of days back, I decided it was time for me to take out my cam and laptop. There was this white colored Intercentury Luxura with no badging, logos or registration running in stop-start Chennai city traffic. From what I saw, the bus seems to have good presence on the road and it did manage to turn a few eyebrows. Although the quality of the body was top-notch, there were no ground breaking design elements on this bus. When seen next to a Volvo, the Intercentury Luxura will not get a second glance for sure. 

While the Intercentury Luxura originally launched in 2006 was front-engined, I guess this one had it's engine at the rear, thus crucially spilling out information that Ashok Leyland is going to make a comeback with this model. NVH levels inside are bound to be higher than the Volvos though external refinement was observed to be good. Even after so many unprecedented delays over the past half-decade, I still feel Ashok Leyland can make a good business deal out of this model if it launches and markets this aggressively, especially to State Transport Corporations. A couple of years down the line, time will run out for this model forever. Hope Ashok Leyland will not let this beautiful model die a slow death.


Maruti-Suzuki all set to continue it's Indian dominace

I read that this company came into existence with a group of people who had nothing but a “World Car Guide” in their hand. After some failed attempts with other manufacturers, Indian Government finally decided Suzuki as it’s JV partner in designing and developing a small car for India. Maruti Udyog Limited, was thus born and with that deal, Suzuki had struck gold, which it would realize almost two decades later. After almost 25 years of existence, nay “sheer dominance” of the Indian automotive market, Maruti (now Maruti-Suzuki) finds itself in an enviable position. It holds a vice-like grip of the Indian market and commands a 54% market share in the world’s second fastest growing auto industry. Whenever Hyundai and Tata try to gain market share by posting higher sales numbers, Maruti-Suzuki grows more than that and makes a mockery of the competition.
The model contributing to all this success in the recent years is the ever desirable Swift. During it’s launch, it came as a whiff of fresh air from a company which has hitherto made efficient and practical but dull and tinny cars. This was the first ever model launched by Maruti simultaneously with it’s international debut. And the public reaction and response was there for Maruti and it’s competitors to see. Now, imagine this. A car, after almost 5 years of it’s launch, still commands a 2 month waiting list in the market. A car, along with its sedan version Swift Dzire, is the largest selling model in the Indian market. A car, which at the end of it’s life cycle and when about to be replaced, still looks so fresh and appealing. The Swift is all the above and more for Maruti-Suzuki.
And that’s why, when Suzuki unveiled the images of the all-new next generation Swift in the web, it has caught the attention and frenzy of the people. If there was one car model which had a huge success story written on it even before it’s launch, or heck, even before any news about it from the manufacturer itself, it should undoubtedly be this. The new Swift, in all probability should see the light of the day by next year and I am sure it’s going to rewrite the sales book records. And not wanting to spoil an already great design, Suzuki has played safe by making this new Swift an evolution of the existing model. While doing so, Suzuki has also addressed the only grouse that most of the existing Swift owners had - less passenger space in the rear. The new Swift has grown up in size and it looks the part too. Having said that, I think, if the rear styling of the present Swift was acceptable, the rear of the new model looks quite ugly to many, going by the response in automotive forums across the world. Nevertheless, it’s a great new car that’s going to come at a great price.

With the impending launch of the Kizashi, Suzuki’s sporty executive sedan, the sun is shining brighter than ever for Maruti-Suzuki. And that’s when all the manufacturers are making a bee-line to grab a foothold in this market.