The carmaker, which today commands almost 45% of India's 25 lakh units passenger vehicle market, has traditionally found it tough to make headway in premium C and D sedan segments with previous models, the SX4 and Kizashi, failing to make a significant impact. Among rivals, the City currently sells about 7,000 units a month, the Verna does about 5,000 units, followed by the Volkswagen Vento and Skoda Rapid.
Mayank Pareek, COO, sales & marketing at Maruti Suzuki said, "The market size of the A3+ (midsize sedan) segment is about 16,000 units a month and we are aiming for leadership. In the A3-segment, the Dzire is already the market leader. We have a lot of loyal customers looking to upgrade from A3- and our premium hatchbacks and they will be a major target."
"This is the first step of a whole new product range coming from Maruti, especially in the upper segments. There are many products slated over the next 2-3 years," a company official added. Industry sources said thatMaruti is expected to soon launch a compact SUV/crossover inthe Rs 11 lakh range, while it is also said to be working on two more SUVs, a premium hatchback and a large MPV.
To make sure the Ciaz is successful in the market, Maruti has trained 2,800 staff across the company and dealer to interact with a more premium set of customers. "We learnt after the Kizashi experience, that importing fully-built models make no sense. Also, the way you sell an Alto is very different from how you sell a bigger car. The premium customer wants a relationship and may close a buy in two weeks, an Alto buyer has already decided and will purchase within a week," Pareek said.
Designed largely in Japan, the Ciaz will be most fuel-efficient car in India - the diesel variant claims a 26.2 kmpl fuel economy beating Honda City diesel's 26 kmpl. It also offers the longest wheelbase (more legroom) and largest boot space in the segment. There is also a 4-speed automatic petrol version on offer, while features like projector lamps will be offered across all variants. The Ciaz also has a new touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, and bluetooth phone pairing facility.