Jithesh

Indian Brands: Grossly Undervalued

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The Indian consumer is now really spoilt for choice, with a series of global brands to choose from. And there is a general craze for "phoren" products in India, a legacy that has been carried over from previous generations. But do these brands really deliver? Are we really getting our money's worth? And why do we still hesitate to choose a Tata or Mahindra over other brands?

Let's take the case of the Renault Duster/Nissan Terrano. These cars are based on the Dacia Logan's platform, which means that it can be built to prices very similar to that of a Logan. We remember that the Renault Logan was launched in India for about 5-7 lacs, and so the Duster or Terrano should be priced close to that. But as we know, they are way overpriced, and the top-end "premium" models are costing about 13-14 lacs!

Comparing it to the XUV 500, which is a truly modern car with modern architecture and loaded to the teeth with goodies, the Duster/Terrano looks pale. But we are willing to pay undue premium for a car which has a Logan's platform and engine over a car which delivers a lot for its price tag.

I agree that the service and quality standards are not upto speed with Indian carmakers, but no brand is perfect in this regard. People who have bought premium brands like Audi and BMW also have felt the pinch of bad service. My uncle has the previous generation Merc C-class and that has a problem of frequently breaking down on the road due to various reasons.

But we don't seem to complain a lot about such brands, but Indian carmakers really get a bashing for some bad plastics and inferior service. The comments on the web about the XUV500 for its faulty electronics were very harsh and unforgiving.

I think we should give our manufacturers a fair chance and appreciate them for where they are now, even being able to acquire global heavy weights like Jaguar-Land Rover. The Tata Indica Vista and the Manza are among the most comfortable cars I have ridden in India, with their lavish interior space, fabulous ride quality and good cabin insulation. But Tata is struggling on the sales charts.

I hope the new Tata Zest and the yet-to-come models from Mahindra do well, because I feel they should do better than what they are doing now. And let's be more open-minded to our own brands, and be able to look "beyond the windscreen".

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Fully agreed. With most of what you said. Many of us are very vocal and extremely critical if any foriegn brand if it does something wrong or about their exorbitant charges.

On my side, I am always happy to see the rapid and steady progress made by Tatas and Mahindras. Not to forget other successful local players like Premier, TVS, Hero, or Kinetic etc., All Indian brands are easy on pocket, both at the time of initial purchase and later for the rest of it's running life. That's precisely why, I bought a XYLO.

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Thanks @ rameshbabu.n, I was very impressed with the XUV 500 after having test-driven the Duster and Terrano. Only the base versions of the Terrano and Duster make some sense, if any. The top-end versions are priced way beyond their worth. The shortcomings of the XUV500 can be very well over-looked compared to what it delivers. And the other cars are not exactly perfect or trouble free and they have their own share of troubles like poor service and high maintenance costs (which no one seems to talk about).

What I would like to say is that our perception about Indian cars needs some re-thinking, they are not all that bad as they are projected to be. Unlike the Chinese, Mahindra and Tata have put in great efforts in developing their own genuine designs and powertrains and giving us down-to-earth pricing. Sadly we don't seem to appreciate them as they need to be.

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In our family we have TATA indigo too and I know the what all trouble it is still giving us on the regular basis. TATA works like a govt. firm and no one in their own dealership too, are liable for their actions. Where as I have 2007 wagon R and still running fine. I own a Honda Amaze diesel but I am not very happy with its quality. If TATA or Mahindra could improve, nothing like it.

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Tata is certainly heading in the right direction with the Tata Zest, which is keeping up with the times by giving AMT and turbo-petrol. Overall quality has leaped forward too. Mahindra has ironed out most of the initial quality niggles with the XUV 500 and its good to see more new examples on the road nowadays.

In a way, these home-grown brands are teaching the global players what the Indian market really wants, by the likes of the Indica, Indica Cs, the Safari and XUV500. Other manufacturers have cashed in on their lead and have brought out successful cars like the Hyundai Xcent and Honda Amaze.

The presence of well experienced global players has also helped to improve our own brands, in their quality standards and product placements. Healthy competition is always welcome that will ultimately benefit the Indian consumer. Only that our home brands should not drown amongst tough competition.

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I just read the news of a Maruti Omni catching fire while on the move in Chennai. This is not the first time I have heard of an Omni catching fire, whatever the reasons may be.

I wonder why there is no hue and cry about the blazing Omnis the way the Tata Nano was targeted initially. Is it only a matter of faith in a long running established brand, or is it our skepticism about our desi brands?

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@Jithesh

Now that you gave an example of Omni catching fire, let me give some more info on that.

I had a brand new Omni-E (meaning 8 seater), July 1997, in which a Lovato LPG kit was

installed after one year of ownership. An uncle (of my friend), a senior auto technician

from the Indian Army, who had about 20 years of experience in kitting LPG kits for

Army vehicles, had converted my Omni-E and a handful of other cars.

In 1997, LPG kits were new and there were no factory-fitted stuff. During the period 1996 to

2000, I know at least 3 Omnis caught fire and totally gutted in/around Hyderabad. Threre

were other cars also like Maruti 800, Santro and Premier Padmini which had fire accidents due

to faulty kitting. There were a lot of hue and cry in all media and RTA siezed a lot of vehicles.

Since then, almost all manufacturers have started factory-fitted LPG and CNG kits, which has

greatly reduced such fires.

Even today, many owners of old cars/sedans like Esteems, Balenos, Accents etc., get their

vehicles converted to LPG/CNG from local garages which may give scope for such fires if

these kits are not properly installed (or if inferior quality copper tubes and other stuff is

used). The main culprit is the copper tubing which should be uniformly and homogeneously

bent (or extruded) to avoid any weak spots. Most garages/kitters do not do this properly.

Probably, the fire you were reporting must be one such case.

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@ rameshbabu.n

Thanks very much for the info. I guess its one of those retro-fit gas kits, that caused a gas-leak and eventually the fire.

I had to put my views in because while I was discussing the idea of buying the XUV500 with my friends, most were of the opinion that I should not go for an Indian brand but opt for European or Japanese brands for better quality and reliability. I was wondering why we wouldn't confidently recommend an Indian brand to our friends. Their products aren't exactly rust-buckets nor are they giving the poorest of services. Actually there are only a handful of brands who give commendable service in India.

I guess the perception in general is that our home grown brands are not reliable and are not seen as status symbols. We like it better if we have a Volkswagen Polo in our garage, compared to a Tata Indica. Thanks to the recent updates and engine changes, otherwise the Polo was another case of an underwhelming product slapped on us for a high price.

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@rameshbabu.n, nice research to put your point across. News channels just broadcast the story with out any thorough examination. By discussing things on this forum we can make our life, colleagues and friends life tension free, WRT car or gadgets we purchase.

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Variety is the spice of Life. Tata and Mahindra could have done better and the best in the past and now when affordable foriegn cars have landed the indian roads the comparison has started. Every Indian wants an Indian car which is better than any foriegn ones but when we only says that "hare chalte hai yaar" in quality and perfection then what can any manufacturer do in India. And Indian companies are aimed to grab the market in their fist (karlo dunia ...!!) without providing quality and service and economical products, what can common people do. While comparing please post with fact sheets like economy, service records, fuel efficiency, durability etc etc. I do have a soft corner only for the TATA as they have served the county with much devotion, but I felt they never have an aim for perfection and quality, either in production or in research.

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Let's leave the fact sheets to the professionals, I am only talking in terms of perceptions and what we see around us. When you go abroad and ask anyone if whether they would buy an Indian car (where available), you could see some raised eyebrows. Unfortunately we can see similar reactions back home as well.

Indian manufacturers had a tough time with strict regulations and limited exposure. It is truly commendable where they are now, as they had a steep learning curve. Tata Nano is an engineering marvel, it surprised the world with what Indians could achieve. XUV500 is an example of how passionate we are about building cars and how we could bring out a truly original product among a deluge of competent players.

Let's forget and forgive what happened in the past, when our brands were learning the hard way. I think now they are in a position where they are offering highly competitive products, if not the very best. Let us appreciate that.

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In the case of utility vehicles Mahindra has done well but, why it is so priced high when we have our own patents and industry. I consider that they have compared the price tag of foriegn ones. Similarly why Swift is higly priced than Fiat Punto. When I compared I felt that Maruti(Suzuki is foriegn for time sake ignore it) is still exploiting us. When the number of cars per year out-numbers other manufacturers why those can't be priced more friendly. How old the aethetics of Logan is. My view is that mahinda's SUV's clicked mainly due to the looks of aggressiveness rather than efficiency and riding quality. If there were such qualities it would have reflected in Logan. Passenger cars ar the core of the industry and Tata and Mahindra should come out of this. I feel Tata should design for a different body shell, should come out of this eggy shaped shell.

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