Even as Tata Motors Chairman, Ratan Tata, hails the Nano as the “Peoples’ Car”, another peoples’ car is making its way into India. The German car manufacturer, Volkswagen, is bringing in the original peoples’ car, Beetle, to India.
This beetle-shaped Bug was enormously famous in Europe and North America for a long time, inspite of its peculiar styling, high noise levels, and underpowered engine. The Beetle became popular with the masses because it provided great cabin comfort and was one of the most powerful cars in the compact car segment. The car hit German roads in 1938 and has continued to survive several generations of cars.
The Beetle has a peculiar history - It is believed that the German dictator Adolf Hitler in 1933, submitted a sketch of his concept of people’s car to Ferdinand Porsche, an automotive engineer. Porsche redesigned the original sketch and came up with the current design of the Beetle. The car was designed to carry two adults and three children at a power of 100 km/h and was supposed to be priced close to the price of a common motorcycle in those days. The break out of World War II stopped the production of this car for the masses. However, after the War, the car became an instant hit and continues to inspire car manufacturers across the world.
Company officials said that the Indian market is ready to receive the Beetle. The re-designed two-door Bug is powered by a 2.5-litre, 5-cylinder, engine that produces 150 bhp. Presently, the Beetle costs $25,500, which translates to Rs 11,47,500 – definitely a high-end compact car as far as Indians are concerned. The company will be importing Beetle cars as completely built units (CBUs). Since, CBUs attract a 100 percent import duty; the costs are expected to double in India.
Volkswagen AG already has a distinctive presence in India with the luxury saloon Passat. It has displayed two of its sedans Jetta and Phaeton at the 9th Auto Expo along with small cars Beetle, Polo, and Up. The company has scheduled to launch all these models over the next two years. The Beetle may well be the first of these launches in mid-2008. The company is planning to sell 20 Lakh units of cars by 2010. It is also setting up a plant in Pune, Maharashtra, in order to increase its market share.