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800 Goodbye?

This was the car that taught India to drive. With stricter emission norms coming into force in April 2010, the Maruti 800 that drove us to New India for the last 25 years may now drive into the sunset, reports Sumant Banerji.

autos Updated: Nov 01, 2008 23:56 IST
Sumant Banerji

This was the car that taught India to drive. With stricter emission norms coming into force in April 2010, the Maruti 800 that drove us to New India for the last 25 years may now drive into the sunset.

A Maruti official told Hindustan Times on conditions of anonymity that Euro IV emission norms that come into effect in 13 cities in 2010 will force major changes in the 800, including fitting a new engine. But this will push the price of the car up. Alongside, there has been a steady decline in sales (see graphic) that has led to talks of a ‘phase-out’.

“Keeping the cost down in a car like 800 is essential and that is the major challenge,” said the official on condition of anonymity. “It is also an ageing brand and looks unviable to fit in a new Euro IV compliant engine and sell the car.”

Maruti, however, denied any plans of a phase-out. The company said the 800 will be in production as long as sales are robust. “There are absolutely no plans of a phase-out. We still sell 70,000 units of the car in a year, which is more than most other cars in the country,” a spokesperson for the company said.

The company recently launched a new KB series engine that is Euro IV and V compliant and will be fitted in the upcoming ‘A star’ model. This engine will subsequently be fitted in all existing small cars like the Alto, Wagon R and Estilo. The 800, however, may not get it.