Some cars die natural deaths while some are found 'dud' long before their product cycles run their course. Shoddy sales numbers are not the only reasons cars flop, since even good cars fail miserably on occasion for other reasons like overpricing, poor marketing, or just plain poor suitability to that particular market.
We take a look at 10 cars that have failed to make an impression in the country's automobile market over the years. That some of these cars saw poor success came as a surprise even to industry experts-let's get right into the (black)list.
1. Peugeot 309: 1994–1997
Basic specs: Petrol–1.4-litre, 70 bhp, 110 Nm, 960 kg; Diesel–1.5-litre, 57 bhp, 97 Nm, 990 kg
The first on the list was actually quite a well-loved car, but PAL's poor service and dealer network ensured the Indian lifespan of the Peugeot 309 was cut dramatically short. A pity, because the car suited Indian conditions well, but even good cars need a steady supply of spares. Fun er, fact: One had to somehow calculate the 309's engine rpm using the hands of the analogue clock, which was present instead of a tachometer...
2. Maruti Baleno Altura: 1999–2007
Basic specs: Petrol–1.6-litre, 94 bhp, 130 Nm, 1020 kg
The Maruti Baleno Altura was one of the few estates available in the country at the time, but this didn't do anything for its sales figures, since the Indian market has for some reason stayed clear of this body style. So, despite the Baleno Altura being extremely spacious and practical, it flopped badly in our market. Incidentally, the Baleno Altura was Suzuki's first ever station wagon.
3. Opel Vectra: 2003–2005
Basic specs: Petrol–2.2-litre, 146 bhp, 203 Nm
It was sad to see the Opel Vectra fail in India because here was a car that was stunning to look at, with a low, wide stance that gave it plenty of road presence. GM sold the Vectra in the country via the CBU route, and as the result the car ended up being very pricey. Maintenance and fuel costs were high too, so it was a tough two-year-existence for Opel's diamond in the rough.
4. Chevrolet SRV: 2006–2009
Basic specs: Petrol–1.6-litre (turbocharged), 100 bhp, 140 Nm
The Chevrolet SRV was another interesting car that failed to make a mark in India, quite simply because it was one of the only hatchbacks in the country to feature a powerful 100 bhp powerplant. However, it was priced out of reach of its target driving enthusiast audience, allowing the Honda City, Hyundai Verna, and Ford Fiesta S to smother any potential threat. The Chevrolet SRV was capable of quite an impressive 0-100 km/h timing of 12.9 seconds.
5. Ford Fusion: 2006–2010
Basic specs: Petrol–1.6-litre, 101 bhp, 146 Nm; Diesel–1.4-litre, 68 bhp, 160 Nm
The Ford Fusion was underpinned by the Fiesta platform, but its estate-cum-MPV cstyling gave the car its unique looks. Unique it was, certainly, but how appealing? Not very, according to the Indian customer, since despite being good to drive, possessing 200 mm of ground clearance, and well-equipped with a decent level of safety features, the Fusion never realised great sales for Ford India.
6. Tata Sumo Grande/Tata Movus: 2008–present
Basic specs: Diesel–2.2-litre, 118 bhp, 250 Nm
The Tata Movus is essentially a rebranded Tata Sumo Grande, in an effort by Tata Motors to pick up dismal sales of the former. The Indian automobile customer is increasingly style-conscious, and it's in this department that the Movus fails miserably with its bland, boxy design. While the car does have the upsides of a functional means of decently spacious transport, the Movus' lack of character seems to have done it in.
7. Skoda Fabia: 2008–2013
Basic specs: Petrol–1.2-litre/1.4-litre, 75 bhp/85 bhp, 110 Nm/132 Nm; Diesel–1.4-litre, 68 bhp, 155 Nm
Another good car gone bad. The Skoda Fabia is a successful model for the Czech manufacturer internationally, but sales never took off in India. Skoda's strategy of positioning itself as a luxury car manufacturer saw Fabia customers expecting premium after sales service, given the car's premium pricing. This, however, did not happen, and the solidly-built Fabia's days were soon numbered. Skoda India is said to have lost INR 1.5 lakh per Fabia sold.
8. Suzuki Kizashi: 2011–2014
Basic specs: Petrol–2.4-litre, 175 bhp, 230 Nm, 1460 kg
The Kizashi was Maruti Suzuki's first (and possibly last) attempt at breaking into the luxury sedan segment in the country. But things were doomed from the start, since the Indian consumer was not going to shell out big moolah for a Maruti, given the company's mass-market image. Also, a bewildering lack of a diesel engine option and a high price ensured the flagship of Maruti Suzuki's fall, despite it being arguably the best looker in the company's line up.
9. Mahindra Quanto: 2012–present
Basic specs: Diesel–1.5-litre, 100 bhp, 240 Nm, 1640 kg
The first of two of Mahindra's failed products that made this list is the Mahindra Quanto, a compact crossover derived from the Mahindra Xylo. The Quanto suffers from disproportionate looks, especially with regard to the awkward looking chopped rear section. Also, despite having 100 bhp on tap, the crossover is by no means enthusiastic, possibly owing to its high kerb weight. News is that Mahindra may launch an AMT option in the near future to improve sales.
10. Mahindra Verito Vibe: 2013–present
Basic specs: Diesel–1.5-litre, 64 bhp, 160 Nm
The shortened version of the Mahindra Verito, the Verito Vibe, is one of the few cars in the sub-4-metre category to remain a hatch, unlike the Hyundai Xcent or the Honda Amaze. Sales have always been poor since the car's launch, possibly because the Verito Vibe looks about as exciting as your office desk. Yes, the car offers a spacious interior and is good value for money, but seems like that's not quite enough any more for the Indian buyer.