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Maruti’s new small car to debut at Auto Expo in Jan
NEW DELHI, DEC 4 (AGENCIES):
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Published on 5 Dec. 2009 1:15 AM IST
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In order to hold on to its 50 percent share of the car market, Maruti Suzuki is developing a brand new small car. The new car, based on an existing small car platform, is being developed by Indian engineers and will be showcased at the Auto Expo next month as a concept car. Speaking to Economic Times, Maruti Managing Director Shinzo Nakanishi said: “We are working on a new small car concept which we will showcase next month and depending on the reaction of the consumers we will put it to commercial production.” Although Maruti officials refused to give any further details of the project, people in the vendor circuit say the company is already working on two small car projects using existing platforms. The first is likely to be the next-generation WagonR and is reportedly codenamed YR9. It is being developed for likely launch next year. Both will use Suzuki’s new, mileage happy KB series of engines. The other is codenamed YE3 and it expected to plug the gap that will be left in Maruti’s stable when the M800 gets phased out for not meeting Bharat 4 emission norms. “Our engineers have the capability to upgrade the M800 engine for Bharat 4 but the corporate decision is that its too expensive and time-consuming to make business sense,” Mr Nakanishi said. “So the M800 will not be available in those 11 cities where Bharat 4 will come in effect next year,” he added. When it rolls out, the new small car will be the eighth small car in Maruti’s stable after M800, Alto, WagonR, Estilo, A-Star, Ritz and Swift. With so many models in its hatchback bouquet, the company is also looking to consolidate its platforms – a common architecture for multiple car models that covers design, engineering, production and major components. Currently Maruti’s platforms include the best-selling WagonR/Estilo/Alto platform, the Swift/Dzire platform, the A-Star, the Ritz and the SX4 apart from the older M800, Omni and Gypsy. “Right now we have eight platforms and we would want to bring that down to three in the future with the Alto/WagonR/Estilo line contuining as our mainstay as it is now,” Mr Nakanishi said. According to auto analysts, the platform consolidation would include phasing out some products that don’t meet emission norms like the M800, replacing others with new generation versions like the new MPV lined up to replace the phased out Versa and upgrading other models using common design and components. Maruti sold 429,291 small cars (including the M800) in the April-November period this year compared to 356,320 units sold in the same period last fiscal, up 20.5percent. Small cars comprise over 65percent of Maruti’s total sales including exports.

 
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