End of the year already?
It still feels like 2022 has just begun, but here we are in November already. Traditionally, the eleventh month is a quiet time for the auto industry as everyone has spent their budgets on the festival season. However, this year, the festival period felt a lot quieter, with just a few unveils and launches. Despite the lack of perceived hype, the sales numbers indicate a 40 per cent year-on-year growth and a figure even higher than in 2019, just before COVID hit. A well-placed industry source has suggested that with how the world had changed during the pandemic, buyers are now ready to take deliveries of their vehicles as and when it is ready to go. If it keeps the ball rolling for the industry continuously, then why not start it as the new normal?
Is Qashqai the real deal?
Last month, Nissan showcased the X-Trail, Qashqai and Juke in Delhi and then confirmed that the X-Trail would be coming to India next year. The product looks quite competent with its feature list, space and hybrid tech, but it will be in a minimal volumes segment where the largest player would top out at 500 units a month.
After years of struggle, Nissan seems to be on stable ground with the Magnite, and it looks like they want to play it ultra-safe with the car like the X-Trail. However, if volumes are what Nissan is looking for, they should be putting their weight behind the Qashqai. It’s a mouthful to pronounce, but we feel it will be the real deal to take on the likes of the Jeep Compass, Tata Harrier and MG Hector.
100kmph in 7.3 seconds!
Another significant event was the unveiling of the BYD Atto 3. It’s an all-electric sub-seven-second 0-100kmph luxury crossover and is BYD's official first dip in the swimming pool that we call the private car market. It is featured loaded, spacious and comes with none of the baggage attached to a legacy automaker. With a massive theoretical range of 521km, it’s got the capacity too. How that pans out is what we will be able to tell you once we drive the car in December. The real deal now is the price which we suspect will be in the early ’30s considering that it is here via the SKD route.
CNG is the key?
Just as the month was to wrap up, Maruti Suzuki launched CNG-powered versions of the XL6 and Baleno and leading the charge of getting gas power to the premium segment. With the future of diesel looking a little tight and BEVs still a while away, hybrids and CNG-powered cars will now have their years in the sun.
Finally, Mahindra launched the XUV300 Turbosportz two years after showing it at the expo. It’s now the fastest sub-four ICE SUV, and from what we could tell on our brief gymkhana experience, it is quite a hoot to drive.
Arriving in November
There’s quite a lot arriving this month, among which the chief highlight is, of course, a new-generation Innova which, for the first time, is not expected to have a diesel-powered model and will instead have a hybrid version. Diesel has always been the heart of both the Qualis and the Innova. In a segment where the average sales hover around the 500 unit mark, Toyota has consistently managed to sell over 5000 Innovas every month year after year, a majority of which is only for the diesel variants. Call it risky or moving with the times, a behemoth like the Innova moving away from diesel signals our industry's direction. It’s expected to be called the Innova Hycross and will get hybrid tech alongside the current Innova Crysta's 2.7-litre petrol power plant. Indonesia will get the car on 21 November, while India will get to see it on 25 November.
The introduction of a mandatory rear-seat belt rule from the start of this month is a good sign, even if it’s a bit late. I mean, buckling up irrespective of your position in the car should come as common sense rather than by legislation. Now that it’s in place and has a financial penalty for violations, things should improve. Or, so I hope.
The Auto Expo will soon be upon us after a three-year hiatus. An unofficial list that’s making the rounds has all the usual suspects showing their wares, but there’s also a much larger list of those staying away. This is a boon for the legs of the attending motoring press (my colleague walked 45000 steps on Day 1 of the expo in 2020) but takes away from the excitement of coverage. I hope, by January 2023, some more manufacturers will change their minds and hop onto the bandwagon.