Maruti has 1000 showrooms in India now

Maruti went ahead and inaugurated their 1000th showroom called ‘Comet Motors.’ By doing so, the company moves forward with their philosophy that aims to spread networks all over the country and reaching out customers in Tier II-III cities.

Comet Motors was inaugurated by MD and CEO, Shinzo Nakanishi, Maruti India along with MEO, Mayank Pareek, Sales and Marketing, Maruti; and CEO, Comet Motors, Jignesh Mehta.

Shinzo Nakanishi dedicated the 1000th showroom to the company’s loyal customers and told he was happy to be doing so. He told it was a very important milestone for the company as well as the auto industry by inaugurating yet another showroom. He says 1000 isn’t just a number, but does signify and reaffirm their faith in India’s growth and does demonstrate their endeavours and efforts to timely reach the customers.

Maruti has 1000 showrooms in India nowOn the other hand, Maruti has continued to improve customer experience via their sales showrooms and aims to take the next step forward.

Maruti has been upgrading their 3-year-old outlets through Nav Nirman project with the main purpose of providing buying experiences to customers uniformly all over India.

Battery maintenance tips – Indiandrives method

How many times do we actually open the bonnet and take a close peek at the battery nestled besides the engine? We are sure that this would be the last cause of concern for any car owner. Things which are visible are usually checked whereas the ones which are not so visible are ignored. However, battery of a car is something which each and every owner of a car has to watch out for. Here are some tips about how to maintain the lead batteries in a car. Remember, the battery is the one which helps in cranking the car everyday and also allowing the in-car entertainment systems to function properly.

No to aftermarket headlamps:

We all prefer better lighting in our cars and since most of the OEMs come with shoddy lamps, we tend to replace them with expensive aftermarket ones like Xenons and the works. Many a times, these modifications are carried out without the insertion of a relay cable. If the latter isn’t used in older cars, the aftermarket headlamps fitment would cause a drain in battery. A relay also prevents unwanted pressure on the battery of a car.

Aftermarket headlamps

Battery waterBattery water:

This is something which needs to be checked into as this is the basic care that one can do for a battery. Also remember that normal water isn’t to be used if one is topping the battery water. Always use distilled water. Putting in normal water with all that chlorine content would mean that the cells inside the battery wouldn’t work properly plus in the end, the entire battery unit may have to be replaced.

Specific Gravity:

This is something which can be checked only by a battery retailing outlet or a shop which has got expertise in this regard. While some may think that this wouldn’t hamper the battery’s performance, it does to a great extent.

Battery terminals:

Corrosion and rusting are the major things which affect the battery of a car. The acid present inside a car can actually corrode it. Once in every two weeks, do remember to remove the dirt and grime from the battery terminals. Some jelly or even grease would be helpful enough in ensuring that the terminals aren’t corroded. Moreover, there wouldn’t be any resistance to the flow of power from the battery to the car’s assortments.

Disconnecting battery terminals:

It is recommended that if one is going outstation for a long time or even not using the car for about a month, the battery terminals need to be disconnected. Discharge of the battery would happen if its unused for a long time and still plugged to the car’s terminals.

Disconnecting battery terminals

Pay heed to the warning light:

If the driver information display does show that there is some problem with the battery of the car, then it shouldn’t be ignored. Get the battery examined at a nearby battery servicing station or at the authorized service station.

These are some of the tips that we thought of sharing with our readers. If there are any more tips that any one of you remembers, then please feel free to post them in the comments section below.

Maruti likely to have incurred a loss of Rs. 540 crores due to strikes

There’s always a price to pay whether you play an advantage or defend a disadvantage. According to company officials, Maruti Suzuki has indeed lost Rs. 540 crores revenue wise over the past 2 months due to labour conflicts at their Manesar plant.

A spokesperson belonging to the company says in September they had managed production of 10,000 units from their Manesar plant, though normal production otherwise would have been 22,500 units every month thus causing a loss of Rs. 3 lakhs per each car not produced.

The ongoing labour issues so far has led to not producing at least 12,500 units in September 2011 that resulted in a loss of Rs. 360 crores or more. However, in August 2011, the company did produce 6000 units, which target wise was lesser when workers slowed down work that resulted in a Rs. 180 crores loss.

An August notice of the company says the workers never worked even after calling off stay over the strike, which was thought to be illegal. These issues led to the company producing only 96 units on August 24th when compared to a production of 900 units daily.

Maruti likely to have incurred a loss of Rs. 540 crores due to strikesAnalysts further note that Maruti might have incurred losses of about Rs. 40 crores in profits due to persisting labour rift between the management and workers over the last 2 months. Analysts have compared the company’s margins from last year and expect it would have a drastic effect on profitability, although profits are less likely to get affected as the yen strengthened against rupee until the 2nd quarter. The company has made a lot of savings by non-payment of salaries to its employees during the last 2 months, which in a way could bring in some reconciliation, and the labour costs itself is 2% on their net sales.

The progress at Manesar is still bleak due to prolonged strife continuing since June 2011 when workers went on a 13-day strike for Maruti not agreeing to recognise a new union called Maruti Suzuki Employees Union. During that timeframe, Maruti had incurred losses of Rs. 340 crores. Going back, production was hit at Manesar when company forced labourers to sign the ‘good conduct bond’ and didn’t allow anybody to enter the factory premises unless they signed the bond. This was initiated by Maruti when they were distressed to find out workers were trying to sabotage components deliberately in the last 2 months. Workers heaved a sigh of relief after strong backing from trade unions in Haryana who believe the management was wrong in forcing workers to sign the bond.

The situation slowed productions of Maruti’s new Swift, which already has hit an all-time high bookings record for any car in India and also the production of SX4 and A-Star.

Around 30 brokerage companies did recommend buying the stocks, 18 firms have told to hold and 10 firms did ask those who invested to sell.

Brokerage companies like Ambit Capital, Brics Securities and Kotak Securities have lowered down the stock over the past 2 weeks.

Analyst Kothari says they believed interest rates would be rectified in the beginning 6 months of 2012 hence allowing the volumes to bounce back. He told they expected Maruti’s growth at 12 per cent next year and that would be good considering the drastic fall this year.

Tips for buying a used Tata Sumo in India

Indian car manufacturer Tata Motors launched the Tata Sumo in India way back in 1995. This was the time when there were not many cars, let alone the MUVs in India. Needless, to say, the Sumo was the need of the hour what with everyone from the ministers to the farmers taking a liking for it. Its been about 15-16 years since the Sumo has been in India and though now its demand has slowed down, it still remains a value for money proposition amongst the MUV lovers. Especially so the call center cab people. The newest iteration of the Sumo is now called the Sumo Grande. Now, that’s some name for a reworked version. Though many Tata Sumo vehicles cannot be found in the used car sector, we have put up a number of buying tips for a used Tata Sumo. A second hand Tata Sumo is the one to go for if one is looking at a low cost MUV and that too with a good service backup.

When the Sumo was launched, at that point of time, it had the Armada to contend with. For buying tips on a used Armada, click here. Most of the Tata Sumos were pressed into cab duties following the advent of the BPO industry in India. Being driven rashly means that most of the Sumos would have met with accidents or scrapes. Earlier Sumos were also prone to rust, big time and especially so if you are looking at a vehicle which hasn’t been maintained well enough. The tail lamp glass tends to be blackened out after some years of use and replacing it wouldn’t be a costly affair either. The head lamps also have the same problem and an overall cost of 1000 bucks is what it would take to fit on new head lamp glasses. The door handles are also flimsy for this MUV and it would require replacement. Do check the second hand Tata Sumo properly before investing your money on it.

Used Tata SumoIn the interiors, the Sumo was sparsely equipped when it was launched. Over the years, this car got its fair share of updates and with more of modern competition joining in; this one also started receiving its updates. If you are looking at a Sumo from the 2000 batch or even lower, it should have all the items, the aftermarket ones rather than original ones. The seat hinges must be carefully checked for any kind of play since Sumo vehicles were notoriously famous for having this problem. The earlier Sumos made do with a manual kind of power steering. Some amount of play in the steering wheel is something which many would actually want to check properly. This can be detected when one sees the vehicle being wandering off its intended path. Fluid levels and oil leaks is something which should be checked for the power steering units, at each and every service.

A second hand Tata Sumo would normally have A-arms for the front suspension along with an I-arm for the rear one. The later iterations of the Sumo got an anti-roll bar fixed into them for improving the vehicle’s dynamics. More pressure by the heavy diesel engine in the front lead to the uneven wear of the front tyres. Tata Motors immediately replaced some of the ball joints which lead to this problem getting solved. Leaf springs which are a part of the rear suspension are the ones which are prone to wear in this vehicle. The wheel bearings should be replaced at every 50k kms wherein the front set would cost only Rs 400 while the rear ones would cost Rs 250. The labor cost would be approximately Rs 250. A steering overhaul is recommended at every 30k kms and it would only cost Rs 500. However, the components are costlier and it would be an approx amount of Rs 3k including the labor. This would include the likes of drag link, tie rods and also an idler arm bush kit.

Used Tata Sumo Second Hand Tata Sumo

A used Tata Sumo should come with discs in the front and drums at the rear. Though there is no ABS and EBD provided for, Tata Motors had put in something called as a G-conscious valve which actually regulates the pressure to the wheels. The brakes should last upto 40k kms. An overhaul is something which wouldn’t cost much. Infact, a total cost of Rs 3000 is what one would look at including the labor as also brake oil and liners. A wheel alignment is suggested at every 8k kms.

The Sumo used a very basic diesel engine derived from the earlier Tatamobile and the Sierra. There are however some key differences wherein there are two belts driving the engine of the Sumo. Many earlier Sumos were reported as having an excessive oil consumption problem. Tata Motors put in a new piston ring which eventually solved this problem. If the used Tata Sumo one is eyeing to buy has got this problem, then replacing the piston rings would solve this issue. At every service, the air filter as also the diesel filter need to be examined and cleaned or replaced as per the requirement. A Sumo’s clutch is a diaphragm unit and if used judiciously, then it would last approx 70k kms, before needing a replacement. The slave as also the master cylinder’s rubber parts may need replacement from time to time or else the oil may leak. The gearbox is a 5 speed unit which though a bit rubbery in its approach, does the job fine for a MUV. The gear bushings need to be checked and if possible replace. This is only if the gear feels a bit hard to engage.

Second Hand Tata SumoIn a nutshell, the Sumo is a reliable MUV what with the scores of Sumos running amock on the streets. Its apple cart was upset when the Toyota Qualis came in. Second hand Tata Sumo cars still command a premium primarily due to their being diesel engines. The used Tata Sumo price for a 2000 model would be Rs 1.7 lakhs while for a relatively modern 2004 model, it would be Rs 3.2 lakhs or so about. A low cost of ownership is what would attract many to the Tata Sumo.

Mahindra XUV500 launched with a starting price of Rs 10.8 lakh

Global auto manufacturers M&M (Mahindra & Mahindra) have introduced one of their most challenging products, the Mahindra XUV500. Mahindra has priced these vehicles attractively in the market with their global sports utility vehicle (SUV) setting new standards in manufacturing for tight competition among rivals.

The base product that’s called W6 is priced at Rs. 10.8 lakhs; the W8 model is priced at Rs. 11.95 lakhs, and the top end model W8, which is a 4×4 (4-wheel drive) is priced at Rs. 12.88 lakhs. Mahindra XUV500’s priced between Mahindra Scorpio that’s Rs. 10 lakhs and Toyota’s Fortuner that’s priced at Rs. 20 lakhs.

Around 200 skilled engineers were instrumental in the development of the Mahindra XUV, and the car’s thought to cross the boundaries of previous Mahindra releases and considered to be a very expensive make according to the company. The time taken to develop this SUV was 4 long years. The launch of the XUV500 is regarded to be very significant, and the significance coincides to the time of the mighty Scorpio’s launch little less than 10 years ago.

Mahindra XUV500Manufacturing of the XUV500 would take place at the Chakan plant and Mahindra plans to export this car to many South East Asian countries, Africa and Western Europe, but would begin their exports in South Africa first that involves a joint dealership with Ssangyong.

President of Automotives at M&M, Pawan Goenka says the amount of investment going into the making of the XUV500 totaled Rs. 650 crores excluding the investment made at Chakan plant. Mahindra & Mahindra expect the XUV500 to rock harder than what they saw with the launch of their Scorpio a little less than 10 years ago. The SUV premium market looks a bit crowded, and M&M would need support through all possible means for the XUV500’s sales including Ssangyong’s support.

A-Star production resumed despite labour unrest

A resolution is secondary, but production must go on is the mantra Maruti Suzuki’s adhering to at the moment. On Wednesday, India’s largest car manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki, told they have begun the 2nd shift production in its Manesar plant even though there’s been no substantial improvement in the talks between workers’ representatives and the management for an effective resolution regarding the ongoing labour conflicts at its various plants.

So far, all the discussions between company officials who represent Maruti’s management and various representatives of MUKU (Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union) who seem to represent the Manesar unit employees have failed, and more recently today when workers demanded all the 62 suspended and dismissed workers to be taken back, but Maruti’s management refusing to do so.

An outsider says the management did accept taking back 18 employees and decided severe disciplinary actions regarding the rest that wasn’t accepted by the workers’ representatives who wished all the 62 workers be taken back.

Maruti Suzuki A-StarIt may be noted that the management refused to recognise the MSEU (Maruti Suzuki Employees Union) thus objecting to talk to Manesar unit workers hence necessitating the intervention of MUKU (Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union) for negotiations on MSEU’s behalf.

Going back, Maruti had dismissed 33 and suspended 29 workers charging them of deliberately sabotaging new cars meant for dispatch so they could be re-worked in the assembly lines thus delaying the product’s timely delivery to customers.

The workers finally have some help through CITU (Centre of Indian Trade Unions) who are protesting in behalf of the irate workers at the Manesar premises.

CITU State President, Haryana, Satvir Singh iterated that it was wrong tactics from the management’s standpoint to be forcibly making the employees sign the ‘good conduct bond’ and wanted the State Government to take up the issue actively in resolving the case.

As mentioned previously, Maruti did state they had begun the 2nd shift production at Manesar. They also told they had begun A-Star production at Manesar. This decision comes at a time where Maruti’s planning to up the production of its other models and resume manufacturing them effectively at Manesar. They did resume production of SX4 sedan yesterday and also rolled 700 Swifts today. This is an increase in the Swift’s production to 10,000 units since August 31st.

To recap on the events, the rift between workers and management did spark off when Maruti did not permit the workers to enter factory premises as they objected to sign the ‘good conduct bond.’ The company says they had to take these measures as workers were deliberately sabotaging components of new cars and they had no choice, but to take make them sign the bond. The workers, however, say Maruti took these steps when they did go on strike for 13 days demanding recognition of the MSEU (Maruti Suzuki Employees Union).

Hamilton spreads the F1 buzz in Bangalore

Hamilton finally set Bangalore on fire on September 27th as promised before as part of a promotional event through Vodafone. A lot of race enthusiasts or people getting into Formula One witnessed the Mercedes McLaren driver showcasing his skills on the NICE (Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises) road in Bangalore. Even if Vodafone and Hamilton had got into an act of just displaying the car, there would be no doubts casted among curious F1 fans, for just the sight of an F1 car’s evidence enough of superior technology let alone a skilled driver driving it.

It was a very hot afternoon in Bangalore that saw around 10,000 F1 or motorsports fans that were present to witness the event. It might be a once-in-a-life time event for some while some are lucky to head straight to F1 races and watch races live anywhere in the world. The Brit driver, Lewis Hamilton drove the same MP4-23 McLaren Mercedes car that gave him his title in 2008.

The sound an F1 car makes tickles any race enthusiast and such was the case in Bangalore where some broke the high barricades in order to have a glimpse of both the car and Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton, 26 years, is at 5th in the overall drivers’ standings of the current Formula One season with still 5 races left. Lewis’ presence here marks as an event to promote the Indian GP that’s scheduled for October in Delhi. Lewis displayed his F1 skills to sheer awesomeness well received by the crowd when he unleashed the power of the McLaren car on the NICE track.

Hamilton spreads the F1 buzz in BangaloreLuck has its way as some could get close enough to visit the pits and also have a look at the technology incorporated to build an F1 car.

On the event, Lewis says he’d been to India many times before in 2 years, and it’s always been exciting to come here. He tells the inaugural GP of India was not far, and he could sense the excitement and growing passion among people here. He told Vodafone’s supported their team and F1 for quite some time now and that Vodafone had shown GP racing to people. He felt the experience to drive his Mercedes Formula One car on Bangalore roads was incredible and hopes whatever he did does spread the feel among the people about F1 racing being a spectacular event.

Lewis Hamilton also spoke to ‘Vodafone Race to Fame’ finalists, a contest that gives them an opportunity  to join the McLaren Vodafone Mercedes team at the time of Indian GP that’s scheduled to be held on October 30, 2011 in Delhi.

Hamilton says the best way to understand F1 is to watch it up-close, so going by the way how things turned in Bangalore, he feels the event was a big success. He feels the Indian GP in October would be a spectacular event for F1 and also India for their passion for sports. He feels the event through Vodafone would be a lifetime experience.

The atmosphere was electrifying in Bangalore. The track chosen for the event was the NICE (Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises) road situated on the outskirts of Bangalore. The event gave a sense of feeling as to Formula One making its presence felt in Bangalore. The NICE road looked like an F1 track with a grandstand and a pit garage supporting the event.

It was tough for security personnel to control the mob (race fans) gathered to witness the F1 ace. Lewis had done events like this in Chennai, New Delhi and Mumbai. This was his first-time visit to Bangalore.

Vodafone has been partnering with McLaren Mercedes since 2007. McLaren has been a very successful team in F1. They have won 4 constructors’ and drivers’ title consecutively from 1988 through 1991 and have 8 constructors’ title to their name.

The ‘Vodafone Race to Fame’ contest was to uplift Vodafone’s association with India globally.

Car buyers guide in the Rs 10-20 lakhs bracket

It’s been some time since we have done any inroads into the Car Buyers Guide. With too many entries crowding the Rs 10-20 lakhs segment its but natural that all the action would pertain to this segment. Within the last 6 months, approximately 4 cars have been launched in this segment and this is discounting the SUVs. What we have done today is just list out the pros and cons of the available models in this segment and list out the prices of the same as well. The prices mentioned are ex-show room, Mumbai.

Skoda Laura TDI :

The second generation Laura has been around in India since two years and is doing extremely well. Infact, it is the so called bread winner for the Skoda family here, outselling even its smaller brethren, the Octavia and also the Fabia. Price range for this one starts from Rs 13.43 lakhs and goes upto Rs 17.57 lakhs for the top end model.

Skoda Laura TDI

Positives:

  1. European looks which have stood the test of time
  2. Great interiors and features
  3. Perfect engine and gearbox combination
  4. Solid build quality plus snob value
  5. Good handling and ride quality
  6. Choice of 3 engine options and two gearbox options as well with dual clutch transmission thrown in.

Negatives:

  1. The price tag may put off some
  2. Skoda dealerships and their service centers
  3. Expensive cost of spares

Renault Fluence :

The Fluence is Renault’s hopes of making it big in the Indian market. The Fluence has got a no-nonsense looks part to it plus the solid hue that the buyers in this segment look out for. The price range is between Rs 12.33 lakhs to Rs 15.44 lakhs.

Renault Fluence

Positives:

  1. European looks which are quite grown-up
  2. Availability of petrol and diesel engines with auto and manual boxes respectively
  3. Features list in the petrol variant
  4. Ride quality is good plus a neutral handling in both the petrol and diesel variants.
  5. Enough of space inside the cabin to give rivals some heartburn.

Negatives:

  1. Renault’s image in India
  2. Renault service centers
  3. Relative cost of spares still unknown
  4. Omission of features in the diesel variant
  5. Both auto and manual should be offered for both the engine options

Hyundai Sonata Transform:

This car has been relatively forgotten, especially with the launch of more modern looking rivals. Recent cars from the Hyundai stable themselves look far better than the Sonata Transform. The price range is between Rs 15.33 lakhs to Rs 17.80 lakhs.

Positives:

  1. A very comfortable car with lots of space
  2. Hyundai’s wide dealer network
  3. Availability of both petrol and diesel engines with manual and auto transmission
  4. Ride quality is good

Negatives:

  1. Lack of features
  2. Engine and transmission combo is not that exceptional
  3. Handling is soggy
  4. Is lost out in the crowd with Europeans dominating the board now.

Skoda Laura vRS:

The image that the vRS badge brings along with it is reason enough for many to throng the Skoda show rooms. There was disappointment when many came to know that there is not much of difference between the regular Laura TSI and the vRS. The price is Rs 15.20 lakhs.

Skoda Laura vRS

Positives:

  1. European looks which have stood the test of time
  2. Great interiors and features, especially with the dark vRS badging on the steering wheel
  3. Perfect engine and gearbox combination
  4. Good handling and ride quality

Negatives:

  1. Everyone was expecting a power increment
  2. A diesel vRS would have been very good for the fuel conscious
  3. Cannot be called as a true vRS
  4. No availability of 17 inch wheels
  5. Skoda service centers and their horror stories
  6. Price tag- at this price point, an increment in power is definitely expected

Volkswagen Jetta:

The 2011 Jetta was launched just a month back and it competes with its sister, the Laura in this segment. The talks about the US version of the Jetta being down on quality of the materials used and other stuff has definitely cut a wrong image of this car here in India. Price range is between Rs 14.12 lakhs to Rs 18.3 lakhs.

Volkswagen Jetta

Positives:

  1. Solid build quality
  2. Decent ride quality as also handling
  3. Comfortable car to be in
  4. Choice of DSG gearbox and a 140 Bhp diesel engine

Negatives:

  1. Lacks in features compared to its rivals. Things like climate control shouldn’t have been omitted on such an expensive car when even the Maruti Swift offers it.
  2. Looks same as the Vento.
  3. Dual Clutch offered only on top end model.
  4. No TSI motor as of now.
  5. VW’s service stories are the same as Skoda plus the arrogance and apathy of their dealers.

Chevrolet Cruze:

The Chevrolet Cruze is one car which turned around GM’s fortunes for the good. It has got the killer looks and other things which make it a darling in this segment. The price range is between Rs 12.51 lakhs to Rs 15.03 lakhs.

Chevrolet Cruze

Positives:

  1. Killer looks with scope for modifications.
  2. Choice of both manual and auto transmission.
  3. Powerful diesel engine which is now more fun to drive.
  4. Features being offered at this price point.
  5. Decent ride and handling.
  6. Chevy service centers and their warranty package.

Negatives:

  1. Lack of space for taller passengers in the rear.
  2. No petrol engine.
  3. Some of the plastics feel sub par at this price point.
  4. Auto transmission doesn’t like to be rushed.

Honda Civic:

The Civic has been a runaway success from the time it was launched. Moreover, being a Honda means bullet proof reliability for this car. The price range is between Rs 12.83 lakhs to Rs 15.8 lakhs.

Honda Civic

Positives:

  1. The looks of this car still turn heads around.
  2. The interiors are something which none of its competitors still have to match.
  3. Nice engine and transmission combo which would bring a smile to the face of the driver.
  4. Automatic transmission also offered.
  5. Comfortable seating for 5 passengers.
  6. Good handling.
  7. Honda badge and aftersales service.

Negatives:

  1. The ride quality is not upto the mark.
  2. Low ground clearance is an issue on Indian roads.
  3. No diesel engine on offer.
  4. Doesn’t feel as solidly put as its German rivals.
  5. Pricey for what it offers.

Maruti Kizashi:

Many would still want to have a double check on the name and others would still be wary as to why this car made this list. Plus there are very few cars on the road as of now. The price range is between Rs 17.12 lakhs to Rs 18.15 lakhs.

Maruti Kizashi

Positives:

  1. The Kizashi has good looks plus a futuristic design on its side.
  2. The engine is one of the most powerful in this class.
  3. Option of both auto and manual transmission.
  4. Features list is also good.
  5. Good seats with capacity for only 4.
  6. Maruti service centers are dime a dozen in India.
  7. Maintenance would relatively be on the lower side of things.

Negatives:

  1. Doesn’t really compete with any of the segments.
  2. Availability of the car.
  3. A tad over-priced for a Maruti.
  4. Available only with a petrol heart.
  5. In the interiors, there are some parts sharing with its less premium cousins.

Toyota Corolla Altis:

The T badge is very much revered across the world and in India its no different. A few months back, Toyota launched a refreshed 2011 model and not to mention, its one of the top sellers in its segment. The price range is between Rs 10.32 lakhs to Rs 14.33 lakhs.

Toyota Corolla Altis

Positives:

  1. The T badge.
  2. Plethora of features.
  3. Good all around space inside the cabin.
  4. Choice of both petrol and diesel engines along with manual and auto transmission.
  5. Toyota dealers and service centers.

Negatives:

  1. Not a driver’s car and also ride quality is a bit fidgety.
  2. The interior theme is shared with some other Toyotas.

Readers, please free to add your comments or additions to this list in the comments section below.

Bookings cross the 1,08,000 mark for the new Swift

As they say, it’s blessings in disguise for Maruti Suzuki as the total bookings for its Swift touched 1,08,000 until last week that’s recorded as the highest for a car in India.

Blessings in disguise in the sense Maruti’s been in a heated turmoil over the last few months with persisting labour conflicts that’s been hampering the sales coupled with hike in interest rates and fuel prices where the country’s seen a sudden demand for diesel machines.

To that end, Maruti’s been able to produce at least 700 cars daily from its two plants at Manesar and Gurgaon respectively, although there’s a long waiting period of 5 months for petrol versions and about 6 or more months for diesel versions.

Company officials still believe they have loyal Swift customers who’d wait for the model to reach them rather than hurriedly making their decisions to shift their focus to another car. To this end, it can be true that Maruti have loyal customers, but a switchover to another brand by rival companies is still a possibility due to extended wait periods for some models.

New Maruti Suzuki SwiftMaruti has been busy deploying new strategies to uplift the continuity of work at its plants, to be precise, at its Manesar facility where they’ve hired 850 ITI-trained contract workers to ramp up their production. They’ve also starting producing the Swift at their Gurgaon plant while starting a paint shop and an automated welding shop at their Manesar unit beforehand including a host of other minor changes.

There has also been a decision made regarding production of a shorter Swift Dzire to boost demand in sales and also to take advantage of lower taxes imposed on cars developed less than 4 meters announced by Minister, P. Chidambaram, although Maruti’s still undecided about the new name for the model with speculations that they’d be eyeing the European markets too with recession in Europe evident and consumers there going for small cars.

With a drastic slowdown in the Indian market currently, Maruti’s not far behind its rivals coming up with discounts and freebies in hopes of selling its other models.

Another official from Maruti says discounts are up when compared to the first 3 months of this year and says discounts on all of their products coincide with what they did in 2008 and 2009. In June of this year, discounts were between Rs. 9000 to Rs. 9500, which is comparatively higher to Rs. 8000 to Rs. 8500 a year ago. At the moment, discounts are shooting up between Rs. 11,000 to Rs. 11,500. Dealerships in Delhi are selling Maruti Alto with discounts worth Rs. 20,000 on Maruti’s top selling car. Discounts on Maruti’s various models are also up compared to 2008 and 2009.

Officials fear that Maruti having undergone a loss of Rs. 1000 crores in turnover aided by disruption in production at their plants would further hamper sales in that they expect it to be going down by 5% at the end of the year.

Unrests at their plants did spark off when Maruti forcibly made its workers sign the ‘good conduct bond,’ which most long-term workers didn’t agree to thereby Maruti taking a step further by hiring new employees.

Swift booking crossing a lakh or more looks like a faint light finally at dark times for Maruti. It remains to be seen what they do with the persisting labour unrest that’s still an ongoing issue, for the company would need a long time to fully heal from the current situation.

Honda Brio launched with a price tag of Rs 3.95 lakhs


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Honda’s built to cost small car, the Honda Brio finally makes its much awaited debut in the Indian market today. The small car from Honda would compete with the likes of A+ segment hatchbacks. Keeping in mind the recent price cuts that Honda had to resort for its City as also Jazz models, the new Brio is priced very competitively. The starting price of the Honda Brio is Rs 3.95 lakhs, ex-show room, Delhi.

It is said that Honda Seil Motor India Limited had to resort to a high percentage of localization for the Brio in order to achieve this competitive pricing. Deliveries for the Brio would start taking place from 10th October 2011. The Brio comes with 4 trim levels and with 6 color options. The base variant would be called as E, the mid level variants would be S and S option while the top end variant is called as V. Rs 3.95 lakhs, Rs 4.35 lakhs, Rs 4.9 lakhs and Rs 5.1 lakhs is the price for each variant respectively.

Honda BrioA1.2 liter motor powers the Brio and it would produce 88 Bhp of power along with 110 Nm of torque. A 5 speed manual transmission is assigned the cog swapping duties. The ARAI certified fuel efficiency for the Brio is 18.1 kmpl. The top two variants would come with steering mounted audio controls as also airbags and ABS.

Honda Brio technical specifications and variants

Honda Brio technical specifications and variants