Thursday, December 24, 2009
Maruti to show India-made SUV concept
New Delhi: Maruti Suzuki India is set to display a "compact SUV" at the upcoming Auto Expo. This is the first concept car developed entirely by Indian engineers -- all other cars in the Maruti portfolio were born in Japan.
Only during the development of 'Swift' did some Indian engineers travel to Japan to assist in product development. Company officials said the SUV is just a concept and at least two years away from launch.
Also on display would be an electric compact car as well as the 'Eeco' MPV.
Unveiled on Wednesday, the Eeco replaces the 'Versa' MPV and is being pegged as a family car with dual usage (cargo plus passengers). It has been built on the Versa platform and Maruti expects to sell about 40,000 Eecos in the first year. It is BS IV compliant and comes strapped with a 1200 cc petrol engine with three variants: 5-seater standard, 5-seater AC and a 7 seater.
Shashank Srivastava, chief GM for Maruti, said the Versa was perhaps positioned "incorrectly. Its initial positioning was two luxury cars in one - but customers did not view the Versa as a luxury car. We have learnt from customer feedback and the Eeco is not being positioned as a luxury vehicle at all. In fact, it will be priced lower than the Versa".
The Versa had a price range of Rs 3.5-4.25 lakh.
Srivastava also asserted that the Omni van was selling well and, together with the Eeco, Maruti would aim for a larger slice of the 'C' segment that accounts for 8000-10,000 unit sales per month. Depending on demand, the Eeco may also be launched in the cargo version.
Overall, Maruti's product line-up for 2010 seems interesting. The Eeco is scheduled for launch during the Expo.
A new, upgraded Alto at a price premium is expected some time after April 2010 when the stricter emission norms kick in, and a 'cost down' version of the existing Alto - to bring it close to the price levels of the M800 - should also be launched by mid next year.
Meanwhile, Maruti expects December sales volume to be similar to that in November.
"But December sales last year were good so the year-on-year growth may not be as good as last two months," Srivastava said. Maruti expects total sales to grow by 18-20% this fiscal.