Ashok Leyland plans Toyota Innova killer on NV200 platform

Kaustubh Shinde

Kaustubh Shinde, They say sooner or later your passion finds you. Sometime in late 2009, I started writing for IAB and ever since then it has been a roller coaster ride for me. An amazing experience that has taught me a lot, taken me to new places, driven some great cars and met some amazing people. When you don't find me on IAB (very rarely), you will find me either at a coffee shop or an eatery or at the nearest gadget store. Hope you enjoy IAB as much as we do!

Now that the Sunny is launched, Nissan India is focusing on the testing activities on the NV200. So many of our loyal readers have sent us spy pics of completely uncamouflaged NV200 doing testing rounds in Chennai. Nissan India is betting big on the NV200 as it hopes to kill the kingpin of MPVs - the Toyota Innova.

Nissan NV200 front-endHowever, Nissan’s LCV partner Ashok Leyland also has similar ambitions and wants a pie of the MPV segment. Ashok Leyland has recognized the growing demand for people movers in India and is reportedly working on an MPV based on the NV200 platform. If everything goes well, this new MPV will mark the foray of Ashok Leyland brand in the passenger segment.

This does raise a question of will there be rift between Nissan and Ashok Leyland as they are both targeting the same segment. However Dr V Sumantran, executive vice chairman, Hinduja Automotive said that their MPV will be completely different from the NV200 and will be targeted towards commercial use rather than a family car. The company is targeting tour operators and taxi operators with their new MPV.

The new MPV will be positioned below the Mahindra Xylo and is at least 12 – 15 months away from its debut. This also acts as a buffer period for Nissan as it has ample time to market the NV200.

The Toyota Innova has enjoyed a dominant run in the Indian MPV segment. However, as more and more manufacturers are diverting their attention towards the MPV segment, the heat will be more intense. The major contender for now seems like the R3 from Maruti Suzuki. Force Motors is also planning an MPV based on the Mercedes Viano. General Motors is testing many Chinese MPVs in India from its SAIC Wulling partnership. At the same time, Chevrolet is all set to refurbish the Tavera with a new BS4 complaint engine by the end of 2011.

As the competition heats up, Toyota better get the Innova facelift out fast.

[Image Credit - Reji Joseph]

[Source - BSMotoring.com]

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