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Sumant Banerji, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 07, 2012
Planned to drive into the New Year in a new car? It just got expensive, and it doesn't matter if you are in the market for an Alto or a top-of-the-line BMW 7 series.

Led by market leader Maruti, manufacturers across the board are going to increase car prices from January. The Japanese firm said Thursday its cars would cost upto Rs. 20,000 more.

Toyota talked of around 2% hike and GM 1-3%. Others such as Hyundai, Honda, Volkswagen, Mahindra, Ford and Renault will do the same but the quantum of hike is yet to be decided.

While the industry is blaming increasing cost of raw materials and currency fluctuation, experts see it as a ploy to lure consumers to the showrooms in December, traditionally a slow month for cars.

On an average, sales slide by 15% in December compared with October and November.

"Companies increase prices in January every year. Input prices have nothing to do with it," said an analyst, requesting anonymity.

Even premium carmakers such as BMW and Audi are feeling the pinch. The two German rivals have announced an increase of upto 5% across their product range.