Maruti Suzuki on Monday launched an entry-level hatchback S-Presso with a starting price of Rs 3.69 lakh, as part of its efforts to gain additional volumes during the festive season in an otherwise subdued market. The vehicle is primarily aiming to tap first-time buyers and is the first entry-level hatchback launched by Maruti Suzuki in five years — it had launched Celerio in 2014. The company has invested Rs 640 crore to develop the product, which will mostly compete with Maruti’s own models like WagonR, Alto K10 and Celerio. Other competitors include Renault Kwid and Datsun redi-Go.
While the vehicle falls under the hatchback category due to its length and width, the company calls it a mini-SUV, given that the ground clearance is set at 180 mm, which is slightly higher than the models in this segment. S-Presso also gets larger 165/70 R14 tyres.
Maruti will also export S-Presso to countries such as South Africa, Sri Lanka and some of the Asean and Latin American regions. The vehicle, which is powered by a 1-litre K10 petrol engine and is BS-VI compliant, will be sold from the company’s Arena chain of dealerships. The vehicle boasts of safety features, including dual airbags, anti-lock braking system with EBD (electronic brake force distribution), driver and co-driver seat belt reminder, rear parking assist system and high speed warning alert. It has an ARAI-certified mileage figure of around 21 kmpl.
While sales of entry level cars, including Alto and Kwid, have been falling for nearly a year now, the company is hopeful that new products in the segment will continue to attract buyers.
Maruti Suzuki managing director Kenichi Ayukawa said a large part of Indian buyers prefer entry-level cars and they have to be given fresh products with better features than the existing ones. “We realised that the entry-level compact segment needs a fresh design language. Nothing like this (S-Presso) has ever been attempted before on a vehicle in this segment,” Ayukawa said.
Expect better sales going ahead: MSI MD Ayukawa
Maruti Suzuki India expects the next few months to be better in terms of sales compared with the first half of 2019-20, as it sees improvement in buying sentiment with clarity on various policy issues, including GST rates, and prospects of a good kharif crop, Ayukawa told reporters.
Maruti, which saw its market share go below 50% in April-August, is counting on festive season, S-Presso launch and revival of demand in the rural segment to ease some pressure on the sales front.
“It is quite difficult to tell (if sales have revived). We would try to catch up on volumes, that is very important because the first six months saw very low demand. We are expecting (revival) but it takes time,” Ayukawa said.
Sales were better this month compared with August and the company expects October volumes to be even better than September, he added.
Elaborating further, MSI executive director (marketing and sales) Shashank Srivastava said with uncertainties around GST rates and BS-IV vehicle registration settled, buyer sentiments have improved in the last few days. “Car buying being a discretionary purchase, so sentiments are very important... I think in the last few days there has been a change in sentiments partly of course due to festive season...” he said. —With inputs from PTI