Kia Picanto, Daihatsu Ayla
Kia Picanto, Daihatsu AylaKia Motors/Daihatsu

The small car segment has been Maruti Suzuki's domain for over a decade. The Alto is the bestselling car in India, and the segment contributes a major chunk in the total sales of Maruti Suzuki. Renault Kwid made its mark in the segment within a couple of months of its launch. The small car garnered over 1 lakh booking at the start of February. Its success seems to have prompted other manufacturers to increases their offerings in the small-car segment.

According to a report in ET Auto, Japanese automobile giant Toyota is mulling over the introduction in India of the Daihatsu brand, which is known for its small cars in an affordable price range. Toyota Kirloskar Motor's (TKM) current hatchback Liva was launched 2010. Though the Liva recorded decent sales for Toyota, in comparison with the other popular model of the manufacturer such as Innova, the numbers were far less. Bringing Daihatsu will help the company crack into the small car segment. It would be easier for Toyota to bring Daihatsu to India as the latter has been fully bought over by the former in January. The India entry of Daihatsu is expected in 2016 itself, and cars will be manufactured at TKM's plant at Bidadi near Bangalore.

On the other hand, Kia Motors, which is 33.88 percent owned by the Hyundai Motor Company, is expected to enter India as a standalone brand. According to ET, Kia is likely to select Tada in Andhra Pradesh as its manufacturing site due to the proximity to Hyundai India's plant at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu. Hyundai India is likely to support Kia with engines and press parts, while Kia will do the painting, body work and assembling. Kia Picanto and Rio will be most appropriate small car in India.

Apart from these two brands, Indian manufacturer Tata Motors is also set to launch the Zica hatchback soon. Datsun is working on the redi-Go hatchback and Renault unveiled the Kwid 1.0-litre engine and AMT engine at the Auto Expo, and they are due for launch this year. The new entrants are expected to heat up the small car segment and to challenge Maruti Suzuki's dominance.