NEW DELHI: Honda may be a late entrant in to the diesel car segment but the Japanese carmaker is hoping to make up in efficiency what it lost in time by designing the country's most fuel-efficient car in its yet to debut Amaze sedan.
The brand had stubbornly stayed away from the diesel market and paid a heavy price as its market share eroded in the past two years. Now it is hoping that the Amaze will bring it strongly back into the reckoning. Honda is banking on the mileage crazy Indian customers to change its fortunes as the revolutionary i-DTEC technology-fired Amaze promises a 26-km run on every litre of diesel. Currently, Tata Motors' Indigo eCS and the Chevy Beat hatchback share the coveted mantle of most fuel efficient compact cars as both deliver 25.4-km to a litre on diesel.
In another first, Amaze's 1500cc engine would also deliver the highest power of around 100PS or 300Nm of torque, making it the fastest car in its segment, much higher than the 190Nm of torque churned out by the 1248cc Maruti DZire. "It's the first all-aluminum diesel engine in the country with some amazing class leading capabilities of fuel efficiency and power," Honda Car India senior vice president (marketing & sales) Jnaneshwar Sen told ET.
Honda's sub-four-metre car would take on Maruti's segment leader DZire. It would be targeted as a premium brand in the expected price band of `6 lakh to `8.5 lakh for both the diesel and petrol variants. Maruti DZire is currently sold at an ex-showroom price of Rs 5.9 lakh to Rs 7.5 lakh in Delhi. Honda plans to launch both diesel and petrol variants of Amaze on April 11 and will unveil the price band simultaneously.
Amaze is a saloon derivative of the Brio hatchback on the pattern of the Swift-DZire and Indica-Indigo genre. Honda's sales this year have been positive with 46% growth and 63,439 cars sold in the April to February months. However, its sales had dipped 8% to 54,427 cars in fiscal 2012. Honda has increased the cost competitiveness of i-DTEC engine through local sourcing and production from its Tapukara plant in Rajasthan.
Analysts tracking the car market say that Honda may get the jumpstart with such high fuel efficiency ratings. "Mileage is the most influencing denominator in the Indian market along with pricing. Maruti maintains its stronghold in India with its range of fuel efficient cars, which comes across as the first riding factor for any Indian customer who buys a new car," said Deepesh Rathore, managing director, IHS Automotive India, an automotive consulting firm.
"If they price it well, Amaze could double their sales from the current 6,000 cars they sell every month," he said.
Honda is expecting its smallest sedan to get equal response from urban and rural markets and is targeting self-driving diesel customers. "Our psychographic surveys point out that Amaze customers are looking for superlative performance from the product.
Unlike the City or Civic, we expect Amaze to be self-driven and generate some good volumes in the upcountry markets. In our product campaigns, we would be following multi-lingual communication approach to reach the right target customers," Sen added. Without any visible campaigns, the Amaze preview website has witnessing steady traffic and generated more than 8000 enquiries. Also, the Internet is abuzz with more than 21,000 conversations on Amaze in the automobile space.