Auto Expo 2012: Maruti to launch 4 new cars across segments this year


India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki plans to launch at least four cars in 2012 across different segments to shrug off a forgettable 2011 and regain market share that dipped below 40% this fiscal.

The company plans to enter the multi-passenger segment with its all-new Ertiga, while a compact version of its highly-popular Dzire would hit the market next month. The Ertiga will be powered by the K14 (1.4-litre) engine and will also have a 1.3 litre multijet diesel variant. It aims to regain 50% market share by 2015 even though it fears a massive dip in production this year.

“Our sales will drop in this fiscal compared to 2010-11. We lost about 1,00,000 units this fiscal due to strikes, and the slowdown has also impacted demand for certain vehicles,” Maruti Suzuki India (MSI ) managing director and CEO S. Nakanishi said at the 11th Auto Expo in Delhi on Thursday.

Maruti also plans to upgrade its largest selling small car Alto, which was launched in 1999, and continues to rule the roads even today. Alto is the largest selling car in the world, and the all-new model is likely to boost its fortunes in the small car segment. Besides, the company intends to roll out a brandnew entry level 800 that would go on to replace its oldest selling car, the M800.

The carmaker had something for the mini-SUV segment as well: it unveiled a new concept of a mini-SUV called XA Alpha, targeting the younger Indian with this lifestyle vehicle. Maruti’s poor run continues as sales declined 17% to 7,73,361 cars till December this fiscal, partly because of the three-month long strike at its Manesar plant. The company attributed the decline in sales to changing macro economic conditions.

“We have noticed that high inflation, rising interest rates and surging fuel prices have forced consumers to postpone purchases. Though our sales have fallen in the past few months, we do expect the Auto Expo to generate some excitement and increase customer footfalls at our dealerships,” Maruti’s managing executive officer (marketing and sales) Mayank Pareek said.

The company has also reduced its forecast for exports in the current fiscal, expecting to sell 1.25 lakh units in the overseas markets against 1.47 lakh units in FY 2011.