Volkswagen India begins localization of the Up! hatchback even as it awaits go ahead from VW Germany
That the Indian car market, especially the entry level small car segment, is extremely cost conscious is a foregone conclusion. This single minded focus on lower costs has resulted in the country’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki, being extremely successful in the small car market. So, everything in the small car segment revolves around value pricing and car makers like General Motors have struggled to get the equation right in India. Last year, Volkswagen launched its big volume, mass market small car, the Up! in Europe. Ever since, the interest around the car has quite high in India.
Earlier this year, Volkswagen India has been spotted testing both 3 door and 5 door variants of the Up! hatchback in India. While VW India decided to not showcase the Up!, surprisingly so, at the 2012 Indian Auto Expo, the car maker has been feverishly working to localize the Up! sufficiently so that the cost of the car becomes affordable for the Indian car market. That said, Volkswagen’s Germany headquarters is yet to sign off the Up! for production in India. So, even though VW India is working to bring the cost of the Up! down to competitive levels, the final decision on whether this car will be launched in India remains with the German HQ.
The Volkswagen Up! is being sold in Europe and a key right hand drive market, the United Kingdom. The Up! has also spawned badge engineered variants like the Skoda CitiGO and the Seat Mii. The Up! is currently available with petrol and electric power options. The petrol engine is a 1 Liter, 3 cylinder unit that is available in two states of tune, 59 Bhp and 74 Bhp. Both these engines are mated to a five speed manual gearbox and are said to be highly fuel efficient. A semi-automatic gearbox has also been introduced on the Up! as a more convenient option for city car buyers.
The Up! is also available in an all-electric variant. Also, a crossover version of the Up!, called the CrossUp, which comes with higher ground clearance and butch looks, is expected to be launched in the coming years. If launched in India, the Volkswagen Up! could take on the likes of the Maruti Alto K10 and the Hyundai Eon, in terms of price and positioning. For now though, the Volkswagen Up! still remains on the drawing board as far as its Indian launch is concerned.