Maruti Suzuki sees debutante Ciaz giving veteran Honda City run for its money

Among Ciaz’s rivals, Honda City currently sells about 7,000 units a month, Verna does about 3,000.

Maruti Suzuki, which is gradually increasing focus on the premium car segment after dominating the core market of small cars for years, expects its new Ciaz midsize sedan to take the lead in the segment beating current leader, the new Honda City, and the Hyundai Verna. While bookings for the Ciaz opened on Wednesday, it will be launched in the first week of October at an estimated price of Rs 7 lakh (petrol) and Rs 8 lakh (diesel).

The carmaker has historically found it tough to make headway in the premium C and D sedan segments, with previous models ? the SX4 and the Kizashi ?failing to make an impact. Among rivals, the City currently sells about 7,000 units a month, the Verna does about 3,000, and the Volskwagen Vento and Skoda Rapid follow.

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 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.”

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“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.

To make sure the Ciaz is successful, Maruti has trained 2,800 staff across the company and dealer points 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.

The Ciaz will be India?s most fuel-efficient car ? the diesel variant claims a fuel economy of 26.2 kmpl. It also offers the longest wheelbase (more legroom) and largest boot space in the segment.

Looks to up Celerio AMT output by 43%

The company is increasing output of its Celerio hatchback, equipped with the automated manual transmission technology, by 43% to 5,000 units a month. The move will help the company reduce the waiting period from over four months as the car witnesses an unprecedented surge in demand. Mayank Pareek, COO, marketing & sales, said, “We started with 1,000-unit monthly production of the Celerio AMT when we launched in February, then increased it to 3,500. Now we are increasing to 5,000 with increased localisation from our suppliers.”

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First published on: 04-09-2014 at 01:17 IST