Volkswagen has finally taken the wraps off its much touted India 2.0 product - the Taigun compact SUV. The Taigun is pegged for a mid-2021 launch - which means the company has showed it about 15 months before actually launching it in the market, or even announcing prices. The plan is for Skoda to take the lead and launch its product at least a quarter earlier. But I believe there should be a rethink at VW's HQ in Wolfsburg and here's why:
1. The VW Taigun is ready
The car shown at the Delhi Auto Expo is production ready. It would need some work for sure. And it would need a lot of work to speed up the supply of parts - even for the 1.0 TSI engine (which too will be locally made). But VW could always launch with the 1.5 TSI / 7-Speed DSG variants by around August and bring in the 1.0 TSI six-speed manual / auto by Diwali. Wishful thinking? You bet!
2. Design and relevance
The Taigun may be an India-specific model, but is heavily based on the Volkswagen T-Cross global model. That car has been around since 2019 and is already becoming popular. It's even shortlisted for this year's World Car of the Year and World Urban Car of the Year 2020 - meaning it will get a lot of exposure going ahead. So it's a valid fear that some Indian buyers may see that and treat the Taigun as a stale model by the time it arrives.
3. The competition
Contrary to what many believe, the Taigun is not a subcompact SUV will have to compete with some severe heavyweights. The 2nd gen Hyundai Creta had its debut at the Expo too and will launch in about 4 weeks' time. The Kia Seltos is already on a roll. And those two are already bigger in size terms than the Taigun. Allowing them to cement their benchmarks in the consumers' minds will only weaken the Taigun's prospects. Revealing the Taigun and its attributes will also only give the rivals a lot of time to strategize how to take it on - or even bring some of its USPs to market before VW can.
4. The Skoda SUV may not be ready
Simply adhering to a launch timeline as per the India 2.0 plan may not make sense given how the Indian market works - and the fierce competition. The plan does entail Skoda taking the lead on developing products for India, but the MQB A0 IN compact platform is global anyway and already has the T-Cross remember? The Skoda Vision IN concept shown was very much a show car, and is looking far from its production avatar. Eventually customers will buy the car they like more. And the Vision IN (or rather whatever they eventually call it in the market) will no doubt be very attractive in itself - with presumably a taller, more SUV like stance. So why delay the Taigun just to make way for the Skoda version? The buyer will certainly not care, and will love the car they are more attracted to anyway - regardless of launch timeline. The fact that the Skoda Vision IN is different (and larger) looking will give it its own identity and prospects too.
5. People want the Taigun NOW!
Yes, ever since the car broke cover and had its name reveal, the carandbike team and I have been flooded with messages, calls, tweets and more - asking if the car is on sale now, or why it isn't so. Clearly the Taigun has had a strong debut. It would be prudent to cash in on this buzz and not dilute that by waiting over a year - by which time people may not care as much. Remember the Tata Harrier's year-long wait? And after a year there may well be many more rivals to deal with too. Even subcompacts like the upcoming Kia Sonet may counter the Taigun after all.
So obviously I agree with the many who would like VW to launch the Taigun this year itself. I strongly believe the Skoda product will also be a gamechanger, will be attractive and along with the Taigun - will expand the compact SUV segment. So let us see if Volkswagen takes any heed to this logic or sticks to its plan.