Maruti Suzuki banks on Baleno to dominate premium hatchback segment

Maruti Suzuki India is eyeing leadership in the premium hatchback segment with the upcoming model Baleno slated to be introduced later this month.

By: | Updated: March 21, 2016 11:46 AM

Maruti Suzuki India is eyeing leadership in the premium hatchback segment with the upcoming model Baleno slated to be introduced later this month.

Baleno, which will be competing with the likes of segment leader Hyundai i20, Honda Jazz and Volkswagen Polo, will be sold through the company's new premium network of showrooms, Nexa.

"We have been defining categories and taking leadership positions in those categories whether it was hatchback like Swift or Dzire or Ertiga. Likewise, our aspirations are that we would be assuming leadership position in this premium hatchback segment as well," MSI Executive Director (M&S) RS Kalsi told PTI.

MSI and its supplier partners have invested Rs 1,060 crore in the development of Baleno, he said, adding that bookings for the car opened today.

It is the second model after premium crossover S-Cross which would be sold through Nexa outlets in the country.

The company's production facilities are fully geared up to supply "whatever the demand comes from the market", he added.

The premium compact segment currently comprises 20 per cent of the total domestic passenger car market.

According to industry estimates, some 5-5.3 lakh compact segment cars are sold per annum currently in India. During April-September this fiscal, around 2.9 lakh compact hatchbacks have been sold.

When asked if the limited number of Nexa outlets would hamper the company's plans, Kalsi said it will be utilising synergies between Nexa and existing dealerships to sell Baleno.

"By the end of this month, we will have 80 Nexa showrooms. Now, these dealers who have these 80 outlets would be having a total of three showrooms on an average. So, in a way, we have a synergy of around 320 outlets as far as the catchment area is concerned."

Commenting on the model, Kalsi said: "This car is going to define premium hatchback segment, it is going to be a game changer for the segment. We are very excited about it."

The premium hatchback, which was unveiled globally last month at the Frankfurt motor show, will be available in both petrol and diesel options.

The petrol variant will be powered by a 1.2-litre engine while the diesel one will have a 1.3-litre engine. The car will also come with an automatic variant, featuring continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Baleno in India will have Apple CarPlay, an initiative in car entertainment system from the global leader of smartphones. Maruti Suzuki will be the first OEM in India to offer Apple CarPlay for its customers.

The model also comes with various features, including multi-information speedometer and UV reduction glasses. Besides catering to the demand locally, the new model will be exported to Suzuki's global markets.

"Baleno will be manufactured at our Manesar facility and besides taking care of the domestic market, it will be exported to over 100 countries," Kalsi said.

Although the new model shares the name with the erstwhile premium sedan Baleno, there's nothing common between the two.

Maruti Suzuki had discontinued the mid-sized sedan Baleno in 2006, which was replaced by SX4 later on. The company, at present, has Ciaz in the mid-sized sedan segment.

MSI has set a target of achieving two million sales annually by 2020.

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