Efficient, reliable petrol engine in hatchback will compete with petrol editions of other manufacturers
The new Honda Jazz 2015 has turned the very important hatchback market in India on its head, with extremely competitive pricing and variants that will provide Suzuki Swift and the Hyundai i20 a lot to think about. The Suzuki Swift is available at a cheaper price for a stripped-down version while the entry-level Honda Jazz has got a few more goodies than the similarly priced Hyundai i20. What the Honda Jazz does provide, however, is a much more spacious feeling inside. You have to sit in it to get an idea. The mid-level variants of the Honda Jazz cost the same and offer more than the top-end version of the Suzuki Swift while the Hyundai i20 offers a whole lot of extras which, often, become distractions.
The last time around, the Honda Jazz faced the tag of being over-priced which, the manufacturers claimed, was because the product was superior. It was true; Honda started off in India by providing really well-built products, designed to last much longer than what the competition offered. Regardless of how well-built a car is, in India, thanks to roads, fuel and driving habits, it will all not last very long, especially after 200,000km and/or five to eight years. In that context, cars from Honda are now also being built to a price. So what sets the new Honda Jazz apart?
It is their petrol-engine technology.
With diesel cars rapidly going out of favour in cities, once again, it is the efficient and reliable petrol engine in the Honda Jazz that will compete with the petrol editions of the two competitors from Suzuki and Hyundai. The true test of a petrol engine, in India, is when you use it on really poor-quality petrol. And, to understand that better, you have to ask around in the petrol generator market, where Honda stands head and shoulders above the others, in popular perception.
Who Needs another Car?
We now have three cars at home; of these, one is up for sale—the oldest from January 2008. As I write this, both our grown-up children—who have one self-driven car each in the National Capital Region (NCR)—are often out of town and also use Ola, Uber and radio cabs. According to them, even on a simple calculation of utilisation costs, using a taxi makes more financial sense when they need a chauffeur-driven option for any reason. All three cars, put together, do about only 1,000km a month now. Cars have always been a rapidly deprecating asset. And new cost-benefit factors have come up from nowhere.
Employing a chauffeur on a monthly basis, now, costs Rs15,000+ in Delhi. Remember, they have the option of earning more as drivers for Uber, Ola and other taxi services. Hiring a chauffeur on a part-time basis costs between Rs400-600, for a four-hour stint, and you never know what the quality of skill-sets will be until the person is behind the wheels. Besides, handing a car over to different people is asking for trouble. Add to that, the cost of maintenance, servicing, insurance, challans and, most of all, parking space.
According to my estimate, monthly parking costs exceed Rs4,000 for people living in gated communities in NCR, as well as other random parking charges. On the other hand, the quality of cabs available is getting better and better every day, especially if you can pick and choose vendors well. And this is, slowly but steadily, happening in more and more cities in India. You have to seriously re-think the need for owning a second car, or even a first one.
(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves.