While Toyota, Honda and General Motor India have been
talking about about launching a small car in India for
some time, an unlikely contender for the small car space
is Hindustan Motors which has been keeping an extremely
low profile on the new launches front.
to recent media reports Hindustan Motors plans to launch
the `Mitsubishi iCar'' in India by the end of 2007. It
would introduce the new model through the SKD (semi-knocked
down) route whereby the new vehicle will be assembled
at the company''s plants in India. HM manufactures the
Mitsubishi brand of cars (Lancer) since 1998 under a
tie-up with Mitsubishi Motor Corporation, Japan.
iCar is a 600cc, 12-valve, 3-cylinder car with a 4-speed
auto gearbox and is currently available only in Japan,
though the company plans to introduce it in the UK and
US after carrying out feasibility studies. The iCar
probably looks closest to the Daewoo Matiz though it
is even smaller.
has a rear-mounted three-cylinder turbocharged engine
hidden under the boot floor and a standard-fit, four-speed
auto gearbox that drives the rear wheels. It has room
enough to seat four though its exteriors are deceptively
small. Its engine''s location under the boot makes for
good cabin space - with plenty of leg and headroom in
despite its small 600cc engine, the turbocharged, intercooled
three-cylinder engine produces a respectable 63bhp.
Said to be a trifle noisy on hard driving, it is zippy
enough on city roads. It takes 11.2 seconds to go from
0-100kmph. Despite its adequate horse power it is positioned
as a city car in Japan.
the upside it has a good suspension to provide good
ride quality and on the downside it has lacklustre handling
and low grip.
the fuel front the iCar gives about 40-miles per gallon
which translates roughly 15 to 17km per litre. It costs
around $11,000 in Japan which converts into rough Rs5
lakh. The tiny iCar is said to have taken Japan by storm,
and sold out each unit produced within three months
of going on sale.
no engine at the front the steering is light but precise
and its compact dimensions mean that it is easily manoeuvreable
and ideal for the narrow city roads in India. It also
has user friendly features like lots of storage space
in front, including neatly hidden cup holders and a
its engine size the iCar car is positioned in the Indian
A2 segment, comprising the Alto, and Maruti 800, though
the technology and interiors in the car are similar
to that of a mid-size sedan. It would be available in
the UK at £8,999 (Rs7.81 lakh) a steep price by
any means for the Indian market. However, through indigenisation,
the price may be further brought down in India.
could choose to manufacture the engine at its Pithampur,
(Indore) facility and expand its existing manufacturing
facility at Tiruvallur to assemble the iCar. Currently
the facility has an annual production capacity of 25,000
units. The Pithampur facility currently manufactures
engines for General Motors India and Ford India, besides
its own set of Isuzu engines.