Maruti Suzuki, the country’s largest car manufacturer, indicated that it planned to launch a 660 cc car in the coming years. In Japan, the 600 cc range includes the Cervo Mode and the Alto.
Meanwhile, the company also plans to upgrade the Omni engine to make it compliant with the latest emission norms and launch an executive sedan to compete with the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic.
Talking to reporters on the car company’s roadmap for the future, Shinzo Nakanishi, managing director of Maruti Suzuki, said: “The Suzuki 660 cc car is a good car for the Indian market, but it will take some years to launch it here.”
He said several issues needed to be addressed before the 660 cc car was launched. One is the large investment Maruti has made on commissioning a plant for the K-series engine, which runs the A Star and soon-to-be-launched Ritz. “We have to recover this investment first. Once that happens, we’ll focus on the 660 cc car,” said Nakanishi.
Maruti invested Rs. 18 billion (US$ 360 million) in 2008-09, and plans to invest another Rs 1,600 crore this year. A large portion of this money has been set aside for the development of the K-Series engine and a new plant in Gurgaon.
Second, to launch the 660 cc car in the domestic market, Maruti’s assembly lines in Manesar and Gurgaon will have to be recalibrated, which was not possible given the waiting period for models like the Swift and Dzire.
“Thirdly, the 660 cc engine needs to be upgraded to meet Bharat 4 norms, which push up the cost of the car,” said Nakanishi.
Nakanishi also made it clear that, contrary to earlier reports, the Omni will not be phased out when the Bharat 4 emission norms come into effect next year in around 11 cities.
“Every month, we sell about 7,000 units of the Omni on an average. That’s a good number and we would not like to let go of it. Our engineers are working to upgrade the Omni’s engine to meet the new emission norms, so the Omni will not be phased out,” he said.
The company had also begun work to upgrade the Maruti 800 engine so that it could become Bharat 4 compliant, but Nakanishi said, “We have had no progress on the Maruti 800”.
Maruti had earlier indicated that the upgrade of the car to the new emission norms would make it expensive. Instead, Nakanishi hinted that the company was working on ways to reduce the cost of the Alto.
On the executive sedan, Nakanishi said the plan is to introduce the concept car Kizashi, which was displayed at the Toyota Motor Show, after it is launched in Japan.
“With the current slowdown afflicting the Japanese and US economies, it’s difficult to say when we will start the production of this concept car,” he added.
Meanwhile, the company is considering a chain of warehouses across the country. “We are looking at land around the factory for Gurgaon and in south India to set up warehouses ranging from 50 to 100 acres. These will store our cars and spare parts that will ensure quicker delivery and reduce dealer inventory,” he said.
Source: Business Standard