Maruti Suzuki has taken the decision of entering the segment of sub-800cc cars. Two cars of this segment that are already operational in Japan are going to be unveiled at the January Auto Expo in Delhi, for analyzing response of prospective customers as well as competitors.
These cars named MR Wagon and Palette are powered by the smallest engine Suzuki has designed till date. If the feedback received at the expo meets their expectations, production versions of either or both the cars will be readied to cater to the Indian auto market. The vehicles are expected to be launched within 2-3 years, sources revealed to Indian Drives.
Though both these vehicles have 660cc petrol engines, they have segmented themselves separately from the Tata Nano, which has been highlighted as the cheapest car in the world, priced Rs.1.53 lakh with a 624-cc engine. The price difference between the standard Tata Nano and the base-model 800cc Maruti Alto is around Rs.1.43 lakh.
The Maruti Alto, which is presently Maruti’s best-selling car, will retain its entry-level position for the company in India, as the two new cars are expected to have either same or greater pricing than the Rs.2.96 lakh of the Alto.
Though the two new cars have lower engine specifications compared to the Alto, they will be provided with more spacious interiors, due to having an improved height vis-à-vis the Alto. The company is yet to announce any additional features for these vehicles.
The strategy behind bringing in these small cars is to reverse the declining trend of the company’s market share in the segment of passenger cars. Recent figures indicate that Maruti has experienced a drop of 7% in its market share in October this year compared to the same period previous year (down to 38% from 45%).
The company also plans to make a series of new launches, including an entry into the MUV segment. This yet unnamed vehicle will be a 7-seater with compact dimensions and the company hopes to drive big volumes through this. Indian engineers at Maruti have developed this MUV with support from the R & D team at Suzuki.
Sources claimed to Indian Drives that the vehicle is ready and could be launched into the Indian market within March 2012. This MUV will fight for capturing the market against the two present operators – Tata Sumo and Mahindra Bolero. Maruti has plans of exporting the MUV as well.
The company also has plans of bringing in a new compact MPV (multi-purpose vehicle), which is popularly known as a ‘van’, in India. This vehicle has been named ‘Ertiga’ and comes with a dual purpose petrol-cum-diesel engine.
Another vehicle that can be expected in the near future from Maruti is a compact SUV. The concept version of this vehicle will be shown in January at Auto Expo and the production model will be launched in the market towards the end of 2012. The only vehicle that Maruti has in this segment is the good old Gypsy, which is used mostly by military personnel nowadays.
A top official from Maruti said that the competitive nature of the market had made them take up a new approach. They were now showcasing their best capabilities by bringing in these latest models. This was also an exercise to exhibit to the world that Maruti was prepared for the future.