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Festive jolt from cars

Calcutta, Sept. 26: A price increase before the festive season kicks off is perhaps not what carmakers had in mind, but have been forced to for reasons apparently beyond their control.

Maruti and Hyundai are raising prices of some models in about a week. The carmakers say shooting fuel prices have pushed up freight costs, which they have decided to pass on to consumers.

The recent diesel price increase has raised truck freight rates by 4-5 per cent on the major trunk routes.

Hyundai said Accent would cost Rs 7,000-8,000 more. The price of Getz will also go up, but by a lower margin.

Getz, which is facing some hard competition from Maruti’s newly launched Swift, got a brand ambassador today in tennis star Sania Mirza for three years.

Maruti said it had made up its mind to raise prices, but the extent and the models would be decided later.

Tata Motors, the second largest passenger carmaker, declined comment.

Toyota Motors said it had no plans to revise prices at the moment.

“We have introduced a new version of the Corolla which is Rs 25,000 higher than the earlier model. So there is no increase. Innova prices will not be raised either,” a top Toyota official said from Bangalore.

The Honda Motors spokesperson was not available for comment.

The hike comes at a time when sales have rebounded after a dismal period in April-July.

In the beginning of this financial year, car companies had raised prices to offset higher input costs and the expense of converting to stricter emission norms.

Passenger cars reported a healthy growth of 15 per cent in August at 72,165 units against 62,845 in the same month last year. The August growth followed a July decline of 7.51 per cent, including utility vehicles.

The August trend has renewed hope that sales would show a growth over the last financial year’s figure of 10.61 lakh. The growth rate in 2004 was 17.65 per cent.

Analysts said companies might be trying to cash in on the revival in the market.

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