The next big churn in the car market may not come from the market leaders
The one brand name which has everything going for it in India, but still does not make the cut in terms of number of cars sold, has brought price and warranty to the bargaining table once again, in an attempt to push flagging sales. Its diesel version cars use the same engine as the Maruti Swift and some Tata Indica variants, while its petrol engines deliver more than enough grunt as well as reliability, with fuel economy too. Its cars are not too far behind those of market leaders like Honda and Toyota.
Yes, I’m talking about the new Fiat Punto Evo and, specifically, the version with the 1.2-litre petrol engine version. Priced at a shade below Rs4.5 lakh, the engine delivers all the performance you need for regular city use and more. A friend brought a diesel top-end version over for a quick spin and I can say this much—the car has everything that can be expected in terms of not just fittings but also handling.
In fact, the upper-end diesel versions give serious competition to the Maruti Swift and other hatchbacks available in the market, specifically in the context of what can be termed ‘style and class’ and handsome interiors. I would suggest you take a serious look at this car if you are in the market for a sub-four-metre hatchback. That apart, the minimalist and clean lines, as well as the sweep of the hatchback curve, stand out in a market full of similar looking cars.
If you can find a dealer nearby, this is one good car, with a low-lying dealer network, which is crying out for direct online sales to potential customers. And, yes, the three-year 100,000km warranty can apparently be extended some more, if you bargain hard.
Can Maruti Lead the Way?
Maruti Suzuki is said to have commenced production of Ciaz (a sedan to replace the old SX4) and is likely to start production of the S-Cross (Crossover) soon. Both cars should create an impact of the sort the Celerio created also because it is being reported that automatic transmission versions will be fitted in them, in addition to a quantum leap in what goes inside the cabin and controls.
I will be glad to see the end of those unwieldy mechanical steering locks in Indian cars, and the sooner the market leader moves to push-button start and electronic immobilisers, the better. Some other brands have moved in that direction; but until the market leader does so, too, this menace of steering locks springing shut at the wrong time will remain and probably cost some lives in the process.
Achche Din for Car Owners?
Are we likely to see achche din for automobile ownership soon? While it depends on what this means to you, here are some factors that will make a big impact:
Cost of ownership and operating a motor vehicle is certainly going to go up across all aspects of motoring. Even something as innocuous as the cost of parking your wheels is going to shoot up, in case you hadn’t noticed it already.
What is going to come crashing down, however, is the wastage and corruption associated with road transport. One of the benefits that will accrue, almost immediately when GST (goods & services tax) arrives, is making India one national market and the consequent removal of many of the otherwise bothersome and troublesome check-posts and barriers all over the country—especially on state and district ‘borders’.
Corruption on tolls, however, will continue to take its toll, on us and on our roads, in more ways than one.
Nifty may try to rally. But the rally is likely to be muted
On Monday, we had mentioned that NSE's CNX Nifty may give up some gains. After an indecisive move in the morning session, the indices plunged in the negative towards the end of the morning session. The S&P BSE Sensex opened at 26,350, while the Nifty opened at 7,875. After hitting the day’s high in the morning session at 26,482 and 7,915 the indices went lower. After hitting the day’s low at 26,315 and 7,862 the benchmarks recovered sharply. The effort to rise made the Sensex close marginally higher, while Nifty closed in the negative for the second consecutive session. Sensex closed at 26,443 (up 6 points or 0.02%) while the Nifty closed at 7,905 (down 2 points or 0.02%). The NSE recorded a volume of 83.21 crore shares. India VIX rose 0.83% to close at 13.9025.
The top five gainers among the other indices on the NSE were Pharma (1.15%), FMCG (1.14%), Metal (0.60%), Consumption (0.25%) and MNC (0.25%), while the top five losers were Infra (1.01%), PSE (0.91%), Energy (0.88%), CPSE (0.87%) and PSU Bank (0.67%).
Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 24 ended in the green. The top five gainers were Hindalco (3.82%), Tata Steel (2.53%), Lupin (1.88%), Bhel (1.61%) and Gail (1.54%) while the top five losers were Jindal Steel (6.19%), IDFC (2.79%), ACC (2.72%), Tata Power (2.71%) and ONGC (2.03%).
Of the 1,611 companies on the NSE, 516 companies closed in the positive, 1,045 companies closed in the negative while 50 companies ended flat.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has levied a total penalty of Rs2,544.64 crore on 14 car makers at the rate of 2% of the average turnover. The penalty is to be deposited within 60 days of receipt of the order. The CCI said that it found the conduct of the car companies was in violation of the provisions of section 3(4) of the Competition Act, 2002 with respect to its agreements with local original equipment suppliers (OESs) and agreements with authorised dealers, whereby it imposed absolute restrictive covenants and completely foreclosed the aftermarket for supply of spare parts and other diagnostic tools. Having a monopolistic control over the spare parts and diagnostic tools of their respective brands, the car companies charged arbitrary and high prices for their spare parts. The car companies were also found to be using their dominant position in the market for spare parts and diagnostic tools to protect their market for repair services, thereby distorting fair competition, the CCI said.
Hindalco, which was among the top losers in the Sensex 30 pack on Monday, ended as the top gainer (3.64%) today. The stock was affected yesterday after the Supreme Court ruling that deemed all coal block allocations made since 1993 as illegal. The quashing of these allocations still remains to be decided in further hearings. The court suggested the appointment of a panel of retired apex court judges to help the court in this matter. The case will be heard on 1 September next. Tata Power (2.77%), which is also affected by this ruling, was the top loser today in the Sensex 30 stock.
Post stock-split, Havells today hit its 52-week high and was the top gainer (9.40%) in ‘A’ group on the BSE. It had announced a stock split in the ratio of 5:1, that is every share with face value Rs5 will be split into five shares of Re1 each and had fixed August 27, 2014 as record date for the purpose.
Reliance Power (6.79%) was the top loser in ‘A’ group on the BSE. Its Sasan based ultra-mega power project (UMPP) has started power generation from the fifth unit of 660 Mw. This takes the cumulative operational capacity of the plant to 3,300 MW out of the planned 3,960 mw. The sixth and last unit of the power plant is anticipated to commission in few months. It plans to achieve a capacity of 6,000 MW by the end of 2014.
US indices closed positive again on Monday. The pace of new-home sales in US fell to the slowest in four months in July. Purchases unexpectedly declined 2.4% to a 412,000 annualized pace, Commerce Department data showed on Monday. June purchases were revised up to a 422,000 rate after a May gain that was also bigger than previously estimated.
Except for NZSE 50 (0.25%), Seoul Composite (0.35%) and Taiwan Weighted (0.04%) all the other Asian indices closed in the positive.
European indices were trading in the green. US Futures too were trading marginally higher.
Despite some protest by the trade union members of the CBT, The board decided to retain interest rate on the PF deposits at last year's level of 8.75% for FY2015
The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) on Tuesday decided to retain interest payment on provident fund deposits for FY2014-15 at 8.75%.
"It has been decided to pay 8.75% interest in the current fiscal," Central Provident Fund Commissioner (CPFC) KK Jalan was quoted in news reports.
Earlier, the Central Board of Trustees (CBT), the apex decision making body of the EPFO had a meeting to finalise interest rate for FY15.
The EPFO has about five crore subscribers and the decision will have a bearing on their retirement fund.
The decision to retain the interest rate on the PF deposits at last year's level was taken despite some protest by the trade union members of the CBT, sources said.
The final notification for payment of the interest rate for the current fiscal will be issued by the Finance Ministry later.
The EPFO had provided 8.75% rate of interest on PF deposits for 2013-14, which was higher than 8.5% paid for the previous fiscal.