Maruti Suzuki to shed image of 'small-car manufacturer'

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Kochi, Mar 27 (UNI) Maruti Suzuki is shedding its customary image of a small-car maker and has emerged as the market leader in the 'A3' sedan segment during 2007-08, company Chief General Manager Ravi Bhatia said today.

Addressing a press conference here to mark the Kerala launch of Maruti Suzuki's entry level sedan 'DZire', Mr Bhatia said powered by the SX4, the company had come on the top of the sedan segment from the fourth position earlier.

The company sold a total of 41,800 units in this segement in the past 11 months (April'07-February '08) in the domestic market, which was the ''highest number'' for any manufacturer in the 'A3' segment.

Indicating that the company would be focusing on the 'A3' segment as much as the small cars, Mr Bhatia said ''India is changing and so are we in response to it.'' Citing a recent industry study, he said 1.6 million households in the country were reported to have disposable incomes of over Rs 400,000 per year. These people were aspiring to upgrade to the premium car segment.

About 'DZire', he said the car offered customers the prestige associated with a sedan while retaining the performance of the Swift hatchback.

He said commonising platforms was emerging as a global best practice as it enabled manufacturers to minimise duplication and prevent wastage.

Launched in the petrol and diesel engine versions, 'DZire' would be available ex-showroom Kochi in a price brand of Rs 4.45 lakh to Rs 5.86 lakh for the petrol version and Rs 5.35 lakh to Rs 6.66 lakh in the diesel category.

Describing the Kerala market as 'special,' Mr Bhatia said Maruti Suzuki had a 68 per cent market share in the state.

With the launch of 'DZire', Maurti Suzuki had phased out the production of Esteem, he added.

UNI ARC JJ 1523

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