This is the story of four Cities. These Cities are not the busiest ones of India, neither are they luxurious. But they are value for money. Four generations in two decades, and City is still surging ahead. Here, we trace the success story of Honda City in the last two decades.
Born a hatchback: Though City came to India as a sedan, it took birth in Japan in 1981 as a hatchback that looks very similar to our good old Maruti 800. The next generation too was a hatchback. It grew in 1986 but still was a two-box with three doors.
Bigger third gen: The City that was launched in Japan in 1996 and was brought to India in 1998. After getting a promotion into the Civic platform, it became a small sedan. It was the City that car lovers like to flaunt even now. Honda provided two petrol options -- 1.3 litre and 1.5 litre. That was the first and last time Honda offered two petrol options in City in India.
Tasting success: In 2003, the 'futuristic' City, its second generation in India, helped the car to become ubiquitous on the roads here. The high-revving 1.5 petrol was too sweet an engine and it also had India’s first CVT transmission. ABS also first came to the country through City.
Indian third gen: The next generation of City in India got ABS and airbags as standard. Like its predecessor, this was one model that every car collector and enthusiast would have wanted in their garage. People even wondered why Honda went for a new model so soon, until they saw the car in metal.
Today's city: In 2014, City, for the first time, came with a diesel engine -- along with the 1.5-litre petrol engine, it also got a diesel engine with the same displacement. It became synonymous with modernity and also the most popular City in India. As many as 2.76 lakhs units of this version have been sold in India. The first-generation City sold 59,378 units in the country, the second 1.77 lakh and the third 1.92 lakh. In total, close to seven lakh City cars have been sold in India, which accounts for one-fourth of global figures.
Kerala market: Among top cities, City sells the most in Delhi, but among smaller cities, Kerala tops the chart for the car – in Kochi and Kollam. People from the God's own country see the car as one that has the blessings of the God. A car that every professional can manage easily. A car that can be parked proudly alongside any Roll Royce.
Network: Honda has spread its reach through the City. In 1998, Honda had just 12 dealers in 11 cities, now it has 349 dealerships in 234 cities. Even in small cities, Honda has two dealers. The City has grown. And, it has enough scope for more growth.