Vehicle Photos in Automotive Advertising

Mahindra Thar

It started as a one off thing but over time I have started noticing the embellishments that are done while preparing vehicles for photo shoots used for print ads and for the websites of the manufacturers selling vehicles in India. I know it’s the whole point of advertising to sell the product in their best possible light – but I feel these points should be known especially if you are in the market for a new vehicle.

  • Visuals of the cars on manufacturer websites usually are of the highest trim variant which comes with body colored bumpers, door handles, exterior body colored mirrors, alloys and in some cases wider tires.(All Manufacturers)(Best Example – even the Maruti 800 on its website is shown with Alloys. The Nano however does show wheel covers in most photos with some even without the wheel covers with just wheel caps)
  • Sometimes even the top end trim may not come with alloys – but still all photos will be with Alloys! ( Eg. Tata Grande)
  • In a lot of cases the photos are shot with wider than stock tires and with a much lower aspect ratio.(Tata Nano/ Tata CS).
  • Mudflaps are usually omitted. Especially the el-cheapo ones given for free by the dealers.(Most Marutis and Hyundais)
  • Dark tints are there on all windows including the front window- usually so dark that they could never be street legal. (Every single manufacturer does this)
  • Body Kits are usually added to boring models.(Toyota Etios Liva)
  • Boring/ugly rear ends are usually not shown – except for the 360 degree views where they have no choice.(Swift D’Zire, Toyota Etios)
  • Interiors are usually again shown of the top end trim level with steering mounted controls, tachometer, climate control(if present), music system and premium seating material. The lower trim levels without music system , speakers, parcel tray, floor mats, boot mats etc are never shown. (All Manufacturers)
  • Vehicle colors indicated and the actual color of the vehicle may have next to nothing to do with each other. Only colors like white, black and silver may look similar in real life.


  • Colors are usually bumped up in contrast/saturation to pop off the page.(All Manufacturers)
  • Wheel are blurred to indicate it is in motion. (Maruti Swift usually looks like it is going to crash into something. Usually the rear wheels are not moving.)
  • The Mahindra Thar in the photo used as the cover for this post – looks absolutely pasted in ! Also note the bull bar,headlight grill,fog lamp,insect grill, alloys ,tint and the lack of driver :-).  Oh and by the way the front right tire is just a bit smaller than the left.  The weird lighting under the vehicle is very suspicious  as well.

Open Challenge:

  • List the manufacturer websites  where entry and mid trim variant photos are shown in the comments below.

Shoot/Refresh these cars or this blogger gets hurt !

To ” Shoot” List

The following list of vehicles are old designs and haven’t been refreshed recently, are no longer popular and  sales are really down (under 3000 units per year). Don’t wait to let them die a natural death – shoot them in the head with a well placed bullet and put them out of their miserable sales cycles. 


Teana  (58 sold) – A refresh made it look nice but the price hasn’t been in the sweet spot for buyers. Getting into spitting distance of Mercedes/BMW/Audi. People are going in for those.  

X-Trail (100 sold) – Again not a VFM or a great performer. Has to be replaced either by something with good mud crawling capabilities/looks.



Versa( 1440 sold) – this is to replace the Omni that is still selling 76K units ? Wouldn’t it make sense to kill the Versa and get an engine update for the Omni to make sure it is still compliant with emission norms.

Grand Vitara(270 sold). Maruti has to realize people do not think too much of large Petrol SUVs from Suzuki. Bring some refreshes to the Gypsy/Jimmy with the DDiS and at a good price. That will conquer the market.


Skoda :

Octavia(2910 sold). Giving a 70K discount on this old old model isn’t going to fool anyone. The Laura sold here is sold world over as the Octavia.



Camry(514 sold) – this has to have a price revision/ (be assembled in India) like the Accord to fight Honda. Else forget about the Camry sales.

Land Cruiser Prado( 109 sold).  Just import these for the movie stars and do that through illegal means. Don’t bother publishing sales numbers and do cash transactions only :-).


Hyundai :

Tuscon( 50 sold) – Hyundai hasn’t done well with SUVs anywhere. India is no different. Latest stunt – SRK to move around on one of these during IPL in SA ? Yuck. 

Sonata(486 sold) – Time for a change in the flagship of Hyundai. The Sonata now looks very dated. The “Transform” hasn’t done much. Azera/Genesis anyone ?



Lancer(1570 sold) – Kill this one and bring in the EVO at this price – please. A lot of enthusiasts would gladly donate kidneys for this. (Especially the guy who runs Madan you reading? )


CRV(2245 sold) – Guess the new shape isn’t to every one’s liking. Too futuristic ? 


The following are low volume cars but as an enthusiast I think they should still be available in India:

BMW 7 Series(279)

Mercedes Benz S-Class(474)


“Die Another Day” List:

The following are models with huge sales % dips YOY. This has to be taken seriously unless the manufacturer wants them to be gradually killed. Most of these haven’t been announced as being chopped. I am suggesting this since these are good cars and have been successful in the past. they could still be given “mouth-to-mouth” of a refresh or value up-gradations and saved to “die another day” :-).


Hindustan Motors:

Ambassador – 5610 units ? Has dropped 34% from last year – it is beginning to look like death might be near for old Methuselah. 50+ years is a long run for  model. Next year it may be on my “Let it die peacefully in its sleep” list. No more discounts/refreshes. Let it become the collector car it is destined to be. Only option – come out with a hot-rod type version with an unheard of amount of power, chopped and lowered. Do not let Dilip Chabbria near it though – some disfigured ugly thing like an ambassador hit by an asteroid (Ambierod) might happen.



SX4  Down 55% – desperately needs the 1.6L diesel engine

Zen Estilo down 35% but still sold 32K units. Discounts and offers may be in order or a mild refresh.



Civic – Down 53% needs a refresh/ value package / discounts


Mahindra Renault:

Logan – Sales are down 48% and Mahindra Renault sold around 13K Logans. The refreshed Logan is needed immediately else Renault can close its existing plant as well. It isn’t helping to see a flip flop from Renault Nissan almost every alternate day on it introducing new models. A clear strategy is required and the models to be launched have to be announced. Buyers will wait if a good car is just a few months away. For. e.g.  a lot of people are waiting for the Splash, Jazz, Grande Punto.



Getz  – Sales now at 9K and down 44%. The price has to be reduced for the diesel. Then watch the Swifts take cover. Hyundai come on wake up at least now. It is still a popular car and I have personally seen people drool over the Getz and go in for the Santro since they couldn’t afford it. The high end Santro comes fully loaded while the base Getz is a tad sparse.



U-VA (6097 sold & down 47%) – The biggest crime of GM to keep the pathetic dated looking U-VA still around. The US has already gone through a refresh of it. am listing it here because of a large decline over last year.

Aveo– Needs a refresh and price adjustment as it sold only 4K and is down 25%. The Fiesta which was launched around the same time has had one refresh and several trim level updates already. Plus the Fiesta has a diesel engine which is still popular. Aveo – at least go get yourself a diesel engine.

Optra– Almost got into my euthanize list as it sold 3204 units and is down 47%. Needs to be reduced in price and space made for the Cruze. I hope the Cruze is as good to drive as it looks.

Tavera   down 35% and sold 13K units. Looks are very dated. Needs to be put out of its misery. Nowadays only cabbies seem to buy it. 



The Palio Stile has shown an increase of 11% over last year but it is still selling a pathetic number – 3679. Am not sure what can be done – other than replace the Palio with something like the Grande Punto at a nice price.


Do you agree with this list ? Or am I smoking something really good ? 🙂 Please let me know.  If you like this post do subscribe to my feed through email or a feed reader.

PS: These numbers are taken from the May 2009 Issue of Autocar India.

For more slice and dice take a look at this PDF I put together to keep this post short.