India’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki, is set to roll out an automatic version of its bestselling small car, Alto K10, next month at under Rs 4 lakh, making it one of the cheapest automatic cars in the world.
The launch is likely to drive up gearless car sales in India, where automatic technology was slow to take off because it is more expensive than manual cars.
Company officials are hoping the automatic Alto will match the success of its latest compact car, the Celerio.
“It is difficult to speculate how much demand we will see for the automatic versions of the new Alto,” said RS Kalsi, head of marketing and sales for domestic operations at Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. “With the Celerio, our initial expectation was to achieve 15% share in the car’s overall sales and some thought even that was ambitious. We ended up getting 40% share and a long waiting period.”
The Alto accounts for a large chunk of the company’s car sales. More than 2.6 million cars are on the road so far and its peppier version, the K10, that was launched in August 2010 accounts for nearly 40% of its sales.
The new car’s affordability lies in its technology, which is not as cutting edge as normal automatic transmissions, but still as effective. It is a boon for city driving because there is no need to change gears.
The Alto has a fuel economy rating of 24.07 kilometres per litre for both the manual and automatic versions. he new car will be powered by a 1.0 litre K series petrol engine that is also used in the Wagon R and Celerio. The engine has a maximum power of 68 PS and a torque of 90 Nm.