The Maruti Suzuki Wagon R is set to be launched with the automated gear shift technology with the price hike likely to be between Rs 30,000-50,000 - the model is one of Maruti's best selling entry-level products.
Sources in the know of the development confirmed that the upgraded Maruti Suzuki WagonR will hit the markets in the first week of November, so as to grab the attention of the Diwali buyers just in time.
At present, Maruti Suzuki offers the automated manual transmission technology (AMT) 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 automatic variant of a Maruti Suzuki model is priced around Rs 30,000-50,000 higher than the comparable manual transmission variant. For instance, the Alto K10 VXI with manual transmission is priced at Rs 3.72 lakh, while the automatic variant is priced at Rs 4.02 lakh. Similarly, the Celerio VXI manual transmission is priced at Rs 3.96 lakh, wheareas the AMT version is priced at Rs 4.46 lakh.
The WagonR VXI is currently priced at Rs 4.28 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
WagonR, which was first launched in the year 2000, has been among the top selling models for many years now. Auto Gear Shift technology was introduced in India through Maruti Suzuki Celerio, which was launched in February 2014. The technology was then extended to Alto K10 in November 2014.
With the ease of not having to press the clutch again and again, the vehicles with the auto gear shift technology are popular in high-traffic urban markets like Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi.
The upgrade in the WagonR comes at a time when the entire entry-level car segment has witnessed declining sales in the past few years. The sales in the segment have declined each year since 2011-12. In the first half of the current fiscal 2015-16, the volumes in the segment shrunk 3% and in September alone the segment contracted 8.7%.
Maruti, too, saw sales contracting 2.4% in the entry-level segment in 2014-15. However, in the April-September period of the current year, Maruti has witnessed a growth of 7% in the mini-segment where it sells the Alto and the WagonR. In September, Maruti saw a flat growth in the segment.
Maruti sources the AMT technology from the Italian component manufacturer Magneti Marelli, which is the component arm of Fiat, which has recently announced expanding its capacity for production of the AMT gearboxes in India. The other models in the Indian mass-car market currently offering the auto gear shift technology include the Tata Nano and the Tata Zest.