The birth of one people's car heralds the end of another. Even as Tata Nano gets ready to begin its journey in India’s automotive landscape, the country’s original people's car, the Maruti 800, is riding into the sunset.
Maruti on Wednesday said the M800, which has been ruling the Indian roads for over 25 years, will be discontinued from 11 cities next year, and from its production line by 2016, when stricter BS IV emission norms become mandatory.
The company's other bestseller, the multi-purpose Omni, too will be phased out simultaneously.
"Every car has a shelflife... even the (Volkswagen) Beetle came to an end one day," said RC Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. "The best days of the 800 are long gone. Its sales have also come down over the years. Though in
isolation it is still significant, it is the Alto that better meets consumer expectations now."
BS IV emission norms will come into effect in 11 cities in the country including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Hyderabad on April 1 next year, and the rest of the country on April 1, 2016. Maruti did try to adapt the 800 and the omni with newer technology, but the pricing went haywire.
"Technically it is not possible to continue with the models. We tried to make the cars adaptable to the emission norms but then the price will not be feasible," Bhargava explained.
The country's current bestseller, the Alto, is powered by a modified version of the same 800cc engine. It does not meet BSIV norms either, but Bhargava said the Alto is here to stay.
"We have not taken any decision on the current 800cc Alto yet, but we have the option of putting the 1-litre KB series engine, which powers the A-Star, on the Alto," he said.