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Maruti diesel car by December

A shock-and-awe strategy is being prepared by India?s largest car manufacturer Maruti Udyog Ltd (MUL).

india Updated: Jun 14, 2006 03:17 IST

A shock-and-awe strategy is being prepared by India’s largest car manufacturer Maruti Udyog Ltd (MUL). It is poised on the springboard for the next leap forward by the end of the year, with a major chunk of its proposed $1.5 billion investment going onstream. This will enable the MUL to strengthen its position in the market, which has witnessed a sizeable shift towards diesel. In fact, the diesel segment is growing significantly and now constitutes 20 per cent of the total passenger car market.

As a first step, Maruti is gearing up to unveil a 1.2 litre diesel variant of its successful compact hatchback — Swift — by December. The company will be able to take advantage of the excise duty concessions for small cars announced by the Finance Minister in the budget. However, the bigger surprise is expected to be with the launch of a refurbished and re-designed petrol Zen being available to customers before the end of current fiscal. This will be a brand new car. With this, Maruti will be able to provide further cushion to its small and compact car segment against emerging competition.

Managing Director Jagdish Khattar refused to discuss details, saying, “Maruti has plans to launch as many as five models in the next five years, and I am not including the diesel car in this. Our technical department is working to commission a new assembly plant, diesel plant as well as the much-talked about gear box and transmission plant in the next six months.” 

The company will also be upgrading its existing models to suit customer response. “With 10 existing models and more in the pipeline, Maruti is going to witness immense activity every four months. We have our plate full. For the first time, in six years, there are launches of new models, part of the capex coming to fruition and many more things on the anvil,” Khattar said.

Apart from this, the car industry leader has set an ambitious target of raising productivity by seven  per cent for the next three fiscals. This comes soon after the company completed its ambitious ‘Challenge 50’, which had entailed a major cost-cutting exercise and productivity increase over three years.

The Nissan-Suzuki global alliance has provided another opportunity though it may fructify over the next three years.