Why do Indian cities not have proper sidewalks?

Those who rise do not want to show themselves in a cheap car


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It is no coincidence that the otherwise so accustomed automobile greats cannot really attract Indian drivers; they simply lack the right cars at the right price. Something like the Maruti Alto. In Germany, the market success of the four-door small car under the logo of the Maruti partner Suzuki was rather manageable. In India it hits the nerve of the aspiring middle class - and the wallet.

For example that of Raju Sachdeva. The 28-year-old software developer stands in a dealer's yard between three dozen Maruti models, all of which are richly decorated with chrome. "An Audi A3 or even a C-Class: It's a dream," says Sachdeva. But a utopian one. "Besides, who could fix it if I land in the ditch with my parents in the country?"

Maruti, on the other hand, has its almost 40 percent market share because the brand is present with dealers and workshops in the deep provinces and the vehicles are easy and cheap to repair. From the Alto alone, the Japanese-Indian alliance sells 22,000 units per month, twice as much as Audi of all models offered in India over the whole year.

Sachdeva, however, is toying with the Maruti minivan WagonR. Because like all Indians, it primarily needs a lot of space in a small space. "Four family members in the back seat, three in the front, that's normal." After all, a car should offer added value even if a scooter is already occupied by a father, mother and two children.

VW is late

Incidentally, the cheapest car on the Indian market is out of the question for Sachdeva: "The Tata Nano is a bad, tight, ugly car - a shame," says the thin Indian in a rage. He is probably not alone with the verdict. The 2,000-euro price breaker with small wheels, a cracking engine and torture seats is also a flop in India. Those who rise do not want to show themselves in a cheap car.

Hyundai has better understood what the Indian middle class with several hundred million people longs for: solid small cars of all kinds. Conventional or high-rise, with or without a trunk, ultra-short or with a longer wheelbase. The Korean manufacturer has more than half a dozen models of this size on offer, such as the Spartan Eon or the i20, which Sachdeva already considers a "luxurious middle class". A Hyundai car is available from 4,000 euros, poorer rural residents receive a discount.

Ford is now following suit with the Figo small car and is also offering the Ecosport SUV, which is well-known in Germany. Honda counters with the Amaze, Nissan with the Go of the subsidiary brand Datsun; for 5,000 euros - including air conditioning.

In contrast, VW, like General Motors, is still looking for the way to the top of the auto wonderland of the future. The Polo, Vento and the Rapid from Škoda are too expensive for the mass market there, and a mini-SUV and a small sedan under a new low-cost brand are only in development. Sales are expected to gain momentum in 2016. Then maybe even 90,000 sales are in it.

Most global corporations still have to learn to meet the taste of the Indians. A few conversations in the traffic jam on Mahatma Gandhi Road could help.