With consumer preferences inclined to newer features in cars, Maruti Suzuki is focusing on two pedal technologies like auto gear shift, automatic transmission (AT) and continuously variable transmission (CVT) in its vehicles across segments. The company first introduced the auto gear shift (AGS) with its hatchback Celerio and subsequently the technology became a part of WagonR and Alto. The company also introduced the CVT technology in its premium hatchback Baleno. These technologies do not require frequent shifting of gears and is preferred these days in cities as traffic congestion is on the rise.
Till a few years ago customers mostly preferred vehicles with manual transmission as automatic gear fitted cars came at a higher price and were fuel guzzlers. According to industry experts, over the last three fiscals due to technological development the difference in fuel consumption has narrowed and the price difference has narrowed to around Rs 45,000 –50,000. Especially, in urban markets demand for vehicles with two pedal technology has increased significantly in recent times.
In FY15 – when AGS was introduced – Maruti sold 32,426 vehicles with two pedal technology and it increased by 75% to 56,968 units in FY16. Subsequently volumes increased by 39.25% to 79,330 units in FY17. At present, vehicles with two pedal technology constitute 11% of the company’s total volumes compared to just 5% in FY15. Almost 60% of the volumes come from the four southern states.
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“Overall, the objective is to expand the two-pedal technology that brings comfort and eases driving. Going forward, Maruti Suzuki’s endeavour is to bring one of the two-pedal technologies to its models, across segments in some form either AGS, CVT or AT,” C V Raman, executive director (engineering) said. After Maruti introduced automatic manual transmission in its small cars, other manufacturers like Renault and Tata Motors also introduced the technology in their respective offering – Tiago and Kwid.
Though Maruti has the largest capacity to manufacture cars with such technologies other manufacturers are also increasing their capacity due to increase in demand from the customers. “Most of the customers in the urban market want more features and convenience and they don’t mind paying more. Introduction of these technologies also point towards the change in the outlook of Maruti as a company as they cater to customers with different economic background,” said a sector anayst from a foreign brokerage.