Honda Car India, the country's eighth largest car maker, is stopping production of the Jazz, its premium hatchback. There'll be no relaunch before next year.
The Jazz production platform was shared with the City sedan. Output had dwindled over several months due to weak retail demand. The five-seater Jazz is India's costliest hatchback, at a price of Rs 7.51 lakh (on-road, Mumbai).
"We will have a gap in production of the current Honda Jazz from March. The next-generation Jazz is planned to be introduced in India in 2014. We have stopped taking further bookings (from dealers). The launch of new models in 2013 has resulted in changes to our production mix at our Greater Noida plant. Depending on the market response to the new models, we will keep flexibility to make the changes in line with the demand," stated a spokesperson from Honda Car India.
Bookings for the car are still being accepted by Honda dealers in areas such as Mumbai. The inventory at Honda's factory and with dealers for the Jazz are expected to be cleared over the next few weeks.
Honda is replacing the Jazz at its Greater Noida factory with its much-awaited sedan, Amaze, due for launch in early April. A new version of the Jazz will be launched in 2014, said a company official. The Jazz's steeper price tag meant lesser demand, as buyers instead opted for mid-size sedans available for the same price.
Monthly volumes of the car were mostly below 500 units since the launch in 2009.
To make the car more affordable, Honda had cut its price by a little above Rs 1.6 lakh in mid-2011, when its ex-showroom price was well above Rs 7 lakh. The cut put it almost at par with the Hyundai i20, Volkswagen Polo, Skoda Fabia and Fiat Punto.
The Jazz will be the Honda's second model to be withdrawn from the Indian market after the plug was pulled on the imported Civic hybrid in 2009. The company was forced to offer the Civic at a huge discount of Rs 8 lakh to clear the inventories.
Honda is yet to finalise the Amaze's pricing and is waiting for the Union budget, scheduled for the last day of this month. Experts have been talking about the possibility of an additional cess on diesel cars in the budget.
The Amaze will be available with petrol and diesel engines. The sedan will mark the entry of Honda into the diesel category; till now, it had been selling only petrol-powered models -- Brio, City, Civic, CR-V and Accord.
The Noida-based company, which had lost to competitors due to lack of presence in the diesel segment, is set to overhaul its presence in the market. It is looking at a variety of sub-segments including hatchbacks and soft-road sports utility vehicles for the near future. All future models will carry a diesel engine option. The entire existing product portfolio is to get revamped over the next two to three years.