Maruti Suzuki Celerio, Tata Zest AMT: Youth-driven demand boosts auto gear shift tech in cars

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Published: January 27, 2015 9:10:08 AM

Compact cars with automated manual transmission (AMT) will account for nearly half the sales in the segment in the next few years...

Tata Zest, Tata Zest AMT, Tata MotorsOn an average, an automatic transmission variant is tagged higher by Rs 1-1.5 lakh over the manual transmission option.

Compact cars with automated manual transmission (AMT) will account for nearly half the sales in the segment in the next few years, says Mayank Pareek, president (passenger vehicle business unit), Tata Motors Limited.

The company, which launched compact sedan Zest with AMT technology last year, has seen steady demand coming in from the variant. Maruti Suzuki too, which introduced the auto gear shift or AMT technology in the Indian market with the Celerio, has seen unprecedented demand for the version in the last year.

As much as 38 per cent of bookings for Celerio have come in for automated options till December 2014, beating internal sales estimates of 25-30 per cent made at the time of launch of the car. For Alto K10, bookings for the AMT option stand at around 24 per cent of total orders of 14,636 units placed between October and December last year. Given the traction, industry sources said, Maruti (in WagonR), Tata Motors (in Nano, Bolt), Nissan (in Micra, Datsun GO), Mahindra & Mahindra (in Quanto and compact SUV) are working on additional product interventions in the space.

Pareek explains, “Automatic transmission variants have always been in demand but the conversion ratio has previously been low due to higher acquisition costs and lower fuel efficiency as compared to manual transmission options. AMT addressed both these issues and with that immediate demand happened. Over the next few years, we estimate, one out of every two compact cars sold would be equipped with the technology.”

On an average, an automatic transmission variant is tagged higher by Rs 1-1.5 lakh over the manual transmission option. The fuel efficiency, however, is lower by 15-20 per cent between comparable AT and MT variants.

While the AMT variant of the Celerio is priced at Rs 4.35 lakh, higher by only Rs 45,000 over the manual transmission option, Alto K10 AGS comes for Rs 3.9 lakh (manual options are priced between Rs 3.2 lakh and Rs 3.7 lakh). Tata Motors currently offers AMT option in a single diesel driven variant of the Zest (priced at Rs 7.25 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi). The fuel efficiency of AMT and MT variants in all three models is similar (Celerio 23.1 kmpl, Alto K10 24 kmpl and Zest 23 kmpl).

With AMT technology making automated cars affordable, demand as shot up in the past one year. RS Kalsi, executive director (marketing & sales), Maruti Suzuki India, concurs, “The Auto Gear Shift technology has been widely appreciated. Of the bookings received the demand of Auto Gear Shift in Celerio is 38 per cent and over 25 per cent on new Alto K10. We were positively surprised by the demand. Younger customers who have seen the success of Automatic in developed markets are coming forward.”

Magneti Marelli, a Fiat Group subsidiary, is the only supplier of AMTs in India. Saju Mookken, country manager, Magneti Marelli India, said: “Only 1-1.5 per cent of cars sold in India have automatic transmission. It is a very cost competitive technology and we are in discussions with several OEMs for supply pacts.”

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