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With age, Swift gets faster off the sales block

autos Updated: May 24, 2010 02:10 IST
Sumant Banerji

One of India's best-loved cars - Maruti Suzuki Swift - turns five on Tuesday and like all global legendary cars it does not show signs of ageing or slowing down.

Launched in 2005, Swift is market leader Maruti Suzuki's most expensive compact car. Yet, it is Maruti's biggest success since the Alto and has outsold some of its cheaper siblings like A star, Estilo, M800 and Ritz during these years. Hyundai Getz, the Swift's lone rival at the time of its launch, is close to getting phased out.

By now, over 4.5 lakh Swifts are on the road in India, and after an engine upgrade earlier this year, the car still enjoys a waiting period of 1-4 months on both petrol and diesel variants.

"When it was initially launched, people were skeptical as it was such a radical looking car," said JS Rekhi, a Delhi-based Maruti dealer.

"As more and more cars were visible on the road, the word of mouth publicity saw demand surge and as a result, even after so many years it looks very fresh."

In a highly competitive small car market, Swift is the target for most new launches - from Volkswagen Polo to the upcoming Toyota Etios - in the premium compact segment.

Internationally as well, the car, is a raging success, exceeding demand in all major markets. Its sales were twice the target in the first year in Japan, while in Denmark it was in the top 3 for more than 2 years and the highest selling car in 2006.

In India, Suzuki had set an initial target of only 50,000 units but actual sales were higher at 61,200. For the last three years, it is the country's fourth largest selling car. Last year, 1.16 lakh Swifts were sold, making the car the fastest in India to cross the 3-lakh sales mark.

The success of the car in India becomes even bigger if the sedan version, Dzire, is added to total sales. Developed by Maruti's engineering department in India, on the same platform with the same engine and chassis to replace the ageing Esteem two years ago, the Dzire replicated its parent's success to become the largest selling big car here.

"Swift was a watershed as it changed our and Suzuki's styling and philosophy forever," said IV Rao, managing executive officer (engineering), Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.

"Earlier we made traditional and conventional designs. Swift brought in real innovation in looks and performance. What gives extra delight is that it was the first global car where Indian engineers worked with their Japanese counterparts."