The Telegraph
Friday , February 7 , 2014
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Celerio set to take on rivals
- Car makers revise strategies for local market

Ayukawa with the Celerio at the auto expo in Greater Noida on Thursday. (PTI)

Greater Noida, Feb. 6: Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) has thrown a huge challenge to rivals Hyundai and Honda in the automatic compact car segment with the launch of the Celerio at a price tag of Rs 4.29 lakh for the entry-level model.

The car, which will replace the A-Star and the Zen Estilo, will cost Rs 4.29 lakh-Rs 4.59 lakh for the automatic version and Rs 3.9 lakh-Rs 4.96 lakh for the manual model.

Hyundai and Honda haven’t been able to make deep inroads into the automatic segment because of the high prices. The automatic models of Hyundai’s i10 and Grand i10 and Honda’s Brio are priced above Rs 6 lakh.

Further, Maruti officials claim the automatic variant of the Celerio will have a fuel efficiency of 23.1 km per litre. The i10 and the Brio offer a mileage of around 19 km per litre.

“Given the congestion on the Indian roads, the demand for the auto mode is a no-brainer. At present, cars with automatic transmission are less than 5 per cent,” Maruti Suzuki India managing director and CEO Kenichi Ayukawa said.

Celerio has four models with manual transmission and two auto variants. The auto gear models will have both the manual and the auto options in the same car.

“Celerio will cater to a growing demand for vehicles with automatic gears at an affordable price,” Ayukawa said.

Maruti officials expect the small price difference with the manual model would push buyers to the automatic Celerio.

“We are bullish about the demand for the Celerio,” said Mayank Pareek, Maruti’s chief operating officer for marketing and sales.

With the new compact car, Maruti has worked on three issues — high cost of acquisition, fuel economy and maintenance hassles. The car comes with features such as alloy wheels and bluetooth connectivity across variants.

According to the company, about 25 per cent of the consumers who come to its showrooms enquire about cars with automatic transmission but the conversion rate is poor because of such issues.

Maruti’s automatic versions of the Zen and the A-Star also failed to find a market because of their high prices.