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UB fizz rubs off on San Motors

New Delhi, Nov 5: Bangalore-based fledgling automaker San Motors plans to go national with its sports car ‘Kingfisher Storm,’ by ramping up plant capacity from just three a month to 100.

The two-door convertible, which will soon be launched in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad, will bear a price tag of Rs 5 lakh. It was being test marketed in Goa and Mumbai so far.

With UB group chief Vijay Mallya backing the car by acquiring a 26 per cent stake in the company and renaming the convertible after the group’s well-known Kingfisher beer, San hopes the car will be a success in the tiny sports segment which currently has no Indian players.

The Kingfisher Storm is supposed to make its national debut in March next year, but work on the plant’s enlargement will be complete by end-2003.

San Motors, originally a subsidiary of locomotive-engine maker San Engineering and Locomotive Engine, was the brainchild of Milind S. Thakkar who invested Rs 65 crore to make India’s first sports car—the San Storm—which wowed audiences at the Delhi Auto Expo this January. The car, designed in-house but powered by a Renault engine, was a run-away success at the fair. However, few expected it to last the road given the heavy price tag and the fact that it can seat only two adults and two children.

“With the UB group taking a 26 per cent stake in the company and their board approving an initial lumpsum investment a week back, we think we will be able to go national in another year. Delhi and Bangalore are car hubs—and before launching there, we should be prepared at our end. The market study shows that the demand will be tremendous,” a San Motors’ spokesperson said.

The convertible coupe powered with 1150 cc Renault petrol engine, was originally planned to cater only to the carefree crowds of Goa and other coastal cities.

The company also has another product on its drawing boards —San Dune—a sports sedan lined up for launch once Kingfisher Storm succeeds.

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