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VW, Nissan set to join sub 4-metre compact class

After every major car maker has shown its intent to be part of the sub 4-metre class, it's now VW and Nissan to join the club

Volkswagen Taigun for representation purpose only

Every manufacturer worth its salt must look at the sub-4 metre, compact class with interest. And, every manufacturer should then plan to have a product in this class sooner than later. The larger car makers are already part of this club – Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata Motors, Honda and even Mahindra; all have at least one product in this category. 

Now, Volkswagen and Nissan are planning to come on board as well. Nissan has been looking at this segment for a while now, but given that sustainability of the compact class rests hugely on government prescribed norms (like excise duty benefit for sub 4-metre cars in this case), it’s a risk car makers run. Imagine, if the policy changes, will the compact class still offer the price benefit it does now? And, if it doesn’t, why would anyone want a smaller, odder looking car? Not surprisingly, Nissan has been going back and forth on this decision. 

Now, however, according to a report, Nissan might be looking at both a sub-4 meter Sunny and a sub-4 meter SUV. The report adds that the company is currently working towards arriving at a current price value equation and that the projects must now be approved by headquarters in Japan. Having both a sub 4-metre sedan and an SUV has been done before. Mahindra has the Quanto and the Vibe. And, it now plans to launch another, more modern sub 4-metre SUV to take on the mantle from the Quanto, as the latter hasn’t sold to the segment's potential.

Ford Figo sedan concept

Ford is another such car maker. It has the EcoSport, and the sub 4-metre SUV has been doing wonders with the sales numbers. But, Ford isn’t stopping at that. It will launch the new Figo in compact sedan form soon. Tata Motors and Maruti, two companies that are present in the compact sedan space but don’t have SUVs, are working hard to get one to the market soon. Hyundai isn’t willing to play the wait and watch game either. It has just launched its compact sedan, the Xcent, and it is now working on a sub 4-metre SUV as well, tailored specifically for the Indian market.

Finally, Volkswagen has decided to take the plunge as well. According to the same report, VW has moved from consideration to final stage of approval for development of sub-4 metre cars. ForVolkswagen which is relying on exports heavily to keep its sprawling factory ticking, needs a home hero fast; a model (maybe two) that will put it on the map. Given our fascination with SUVs, a compact sub 4-metre SUV is a must. It is also a less risky endeavour than a compact sedan as SUVs as it is a popular segment. So, whether excise duty norms change or remain the same, there will always be demand for SUVs. But, to help sales along further, a compact sedan will also come from Volkswagen, based on the same architecture as the compact SUV, of course. 

It is surprising that Volkswagen has, in fact, taken so long to finalise this idea. VW and Skoda share products. They use the same vehicle architecture, and engines and gearboxes, but sport different grilles, headlamps and in some cases, different skins. Naturally, a compact sedan and SUV would have benefited Skoda immensely as well, especially when Skoda has no presence in the hatchback/small car space. This project is codenamed VW 251\2 and the vehicles based on it are expected in 2016, says the report, adding that Volkswagen expects to sell 60,000 units annually of cars that will be part of this project. And, this doesn’t include the Skoda derivatives.

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