The country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India, known for compact cars, is aiming for the top slot in mid-sized sedan segment with it's upcoming model Ciaz.
Having learnt lessons from the past with Baleno and SX4 models, the company is preparing to aggressively tap customers who are looking to upgrade, with the Ciaz, on which it has invested Rs 620 crore on development.
"This is a very significant product for us. We have not conquered the mid-sized sedan segment, although we did for a brief period with the SX4. We are looking at sustained segment leadership with Ciaz," MSI chief operating officer (sales and marketing) Mayank Pareek told reporters here.
Ciaz' main competitors will be Honda City, priced between Rs 7.19 lakh and Rs 11.05 lakh, and Hyundai Verna tagged between Rs 7.39 lakh and Rs 11.72 lakh (ex showroom Delhi).
The Ciaz will be launched in the Indian market in the first week of October although Maruti has opened bookings for it from today with an advanced payment of Rs 21,000 across its 1,370 outlets.
Stating that Ciaz is developed on a completely new platform, Pareek said the company is also focusing on improving soft skills of its sales people to sell bigger and premium cars.
"Currently we are training around 28,000 people across our sales network on soft skills, on how to deal with premium customers, specifically for Ciaz. The entry level small car customers are different from premium customers, who need personalised experience, and that's what we are focusing on," he said.
While he did not share any target sales for Ciaz, Pareek said it would do well. At its peak, SX4 did about 3000 units a month, while the current segment leader Honda City sells about 5,000 units a month.
Overall the mid sized segment sales witnesses around 16,000 units per month currently. Ciaz will be available in petrol and diesel fuel options powered by 1.4 litre and 1.3 litre engines respectively.
The company claims that Ciaz diesel has a fuel efficiency of 26.21 kmpl while petrol delivers a mileage of 20.73 kmpl.
The new model will replace the SX4 sedan, which had limited success.