Car maker Maruti Udyog Ltd (MUL) on Wednesday launched a 1.3 litre diesel engine-riven premium hatchback Swift and said it would be unveiling two new models in the next financial year. The company is drawing an ambitious plan to raise exports to 2.5 lakh units per annum by 2010 from the current 40,000 units.
The diesel Swift will be available in two variants, LDi and VDi, and come with an ex-showroom price of Rs 4.68 lakhs and Rs 4.96 lakhs respectively.
"With the launch of the two new models, we will meet our commitment of introducing five models in five years well ahead of schedule. The company will also introduce another model in 2008-09 targeted at the European market and we plan to export 1 lakh units of the car," MUL managing director Jagdish Khattar told reporters.
Maruti has begun preliminary work to increase the capacity of its diesel engine plant from the current one lakh units per annum to three lakh units annually. "We will be investing Rs 2,500 crore in the diesel engine project. We plan to export diesel engines to the Suzuki plant in Hungary," Khattar said.
The diesel technology is being provided by Italian automobile giant Fiat Auto and is Maruti's second attempt to have a presence in the diesel segment. Maruti had launched Zen diesel on engines imported from France's Peugeot. However, the high customs duty made it difficult for Maruti to have a significant presence in the growing diesel engine market, which constitutes 18 per cent of the car market.
"With the launch of Swift Diesel, we are expecting a change in current market shares of different segments of diesel cars," Khattar said. However, he declined to give any targets that the company has set for Swift Diesel, stating as it was a new product the company would prefer to gauge the customer response.
Email Deepak Joshi: djoshi @hindustantimes.com