A surge in the popularity of automated manual transmission — a cost effective and relatively unsophisticated version of gearless cars — has led to a dramatic increase in sales of automatic cars in India, which touched nearly 80,000 units in 2014-15 from under 50,000 units in 2013-14.
The main driver of was market leader Maruti Suzuki India, which launched two AMT versions last year in its small cars Celerio and Alto K10. The company sold 32,300 automatic cars in 2014-15 from just 1,500 units in 2013-14. The AMT versions in the Celerio and Alto K10 accounted for 30,000 units of these.
“We have anticipated AMT to account for 25% in the Celerio in the long term, but it continues to account for a much higher 40%,” said RS Kalsi, executive director, marketing and sales, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. “Celerio’s success gave us confidence to launch it in Alto K10, where currently the share is at 25-30%.”
Compared to a conventional automatic car, the AMT version commands a significantly lower premium over a geared car, without any significant compromise in fuel economy. For example, the automatic version of a Honda Brio costs around ` 80,000-120,000 more than its similar geared version, while the fuel economy in the automatic version is 16.5 kpl while that of geared version is 19.4 kpl. In the case of Celerio, however, the AMT version costs Rs. 50,000 more than the geared version, and both have identical fuel economy figures.
“Over the next few years, one out of every two compact cars sold would be equipped with the technology,” said Mayank Pareek, president, passenger vehicle business unit, Tata Motors.