The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Maruti to build Zen-Esteem bridge

New Delhi, Nov. 27: Engineers at Maruti Udyog Ltd are currently working with their counterparts from the parent, Suzuki Motor Corp, to design a new model that will be positioned between Esteem and Zen.

“A team of engineers numbering between 17-18 has been sent to Japan to work on the new model that will be priced around Rs 4 lakh,” said sources. This is the first time a project of this nature has been undertaken.

Maruti, the country’s largest car maker, today launched a new-look version of its Zen compact car, sporting a sticker price of Rs 3.32 lakh (ex-Delhi) but company officials said there is a plan to increase prices by the end of December.

“Prices might rise between 4-5 per cent but nothing has been firmed up yet,” said a senior company official.

The new-look version of Zen comes with a new hatch door, bonnet, front grille, tail lamps, front and rear fog lamps, which has been designed by the domestic R&D centre, said Jagdish Khattar, managing director of the car maker.

He said these changes is the first step in developing a new car and Maruti’s objective is that its R&D should be able to do most of the work that is required in developing a new model within the next four to five years.

“The new design changes is an outcome of an indigenous effort for the first time,” said Sudam Maitra, chief general manager of a production unit.

“We have also worked on the engineering, development and evaluation part,” he added.

Khattar also said the new look version of Zen would boost sales and the November vehicle sales would be similar to last month and better than the same month a year ago.

“We are confident that there would be an increase in sales and my guess estimate is there would be an 10 per cent increase,” Khattar told newspersons. “Sales are in line with October. May be plus or minus one or two per cent, but much better than November last year.”

Maruti, in which Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp holds 54.2 per cent, saw a 35.2 per cent rise in October sales after a strike ended at a key supplier.

Maruti’s plant is located on the outskirts of New Delhi and has the capacity to produce 3,50,000 vehicles annually. It makes 11 models including cars, multi-purpose and utility vehicles.

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