At a time when petrol-driven small cars are seeing a rise in demand due to the rise in diesel prices, India’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, on Wednesday launched a souped-up version of its small car, Wagon R, called Stingray.
The Stingray is priced at Rs. 4.10-Rs 4.67 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) and is approximately Rs. 22,000 costlier than the standard Wagon R. The car has the same 1-litre K-series petrol engine, but comes with cosmetic enhancements such as projector headlamps, chrome finished grille and all-black interiors.
“For the younger customers who aspire for a bold and aggressively styled car, Stingray will be a delightful choice,” said Kenichi Ayukawa, MD & CEO, MSIL.
The Wagon R was the fourth largest selling car in India in 2012-13 with 135,694 units sold. Stable mates Swift compact car and Dzire sedan overtook it last year as demand for diesel cars outstripped petrol models. In the first four months of 2013-14, sales of Wagon R grew by 31% as petrol cars came back into vogue, after the government announced a measured withdrawal of subsidy on diesel.
“While the market is in a very bad shape, possibly the worst in two decades, petrol cars have made a comeback,” said Mayank Pareek, COO, marketing and sales, MSIL. “In July, sales of petrol cars was higher than diesel for the first time in two years.”
The share of diesel cars nudged above 50% as petrol prices spiralled after being decontrolled. In the last six months, the decision to decontrol diesel prices led to a reversal in conditions.
Diesel cars still account for 54% of all cars sold in India.
“Since May 2010, petrol prices have gone up by 49% while for diesel it is only 34%. That was the reason for the shift in demand, which peaked sometime last year when diesel car sales accounted for 61% of the overall market,” Pareek said. “I think it will come back to 50-50 this year.”