The country’s largest car-maker, Maruti Suzuki India, is moving towards offering an automatic technology variant in every segment it is present in. Currently, Maruti offers a variant of semi-automatic and automatic technology in the Celerio, Alto K10, WagonR, Dzire, Baleno and the Ciaz. The models still having scope for offering the automatic technology include the best-selling hatchback Swift, utility vehicle Ertiga and the newly launched crossover S-Cross.
“We are watching the market, we will definitely bring in these technologies. We want to make sure that each of the segments where we are, we do offer this kind of technology. We are making sure that some two-pedal technology is available in each segment, so that people have the choice. We are also trying to make it affordable,” CV Raman, executive director, engineering at Maruti Suzuki India told FE.
At present, Maruti Suzuki offers the automated manual transmission technology in compact hatchback Celerio and Alto K10. The automatic variants of these models comprise close to 25% of the total sales of the models put together since their launch. Maruti has sold over 50,000 automatic units of these models put together till end of September. While the Alto clocks monthly sales of close to 20,000 units, the Celerio has recorded average monthly sales of around 8,000 units — of which close to 40% are with the auto gear shift technology.
Typically, the auto gear-shift variant of a Maruti Suzuki model is priced around R30,000-R50,000 higher as compared to manual transmission variant while a CVT variant (a higher version of automatic) has a price difference of around R90,000-R100,000 than the comparable manual transmission variant.
According to analysts, any move to expands its portfolio of AMT variants in the mass market products will be a big positive push for Maruti. “The proliferation of AMT technology in other segments, in general, is a very positive move for Maruti. Being the market leader it will set a precedent for offering the semi automatic technology in mass market products,” said Anil Sharma, principal analyst IHS Automotive.
But since the CVT technology reduces the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, it may not generate a lot of excitement in the mass market products. “This kind of costly technology has a higher degree of acceptance in the higher segment cars like Baleno and Ciaz. When we talk of hatchbacks and mass market hatchbacks, that market may not be yet ready for R100,000 premium for ease of driving while fuel efficiency goes down. It’s not necessarily a net positive for the consumers,” Sharma said.
However, Maruti’s Swift, which is the third most popular car in India has huge prospects with automatic technology, he says. “Swift is one of the most competitively priced hatchback in its segment. So it is going to open up a different set of possibilities for the consumer as well as the automaker.”