Maruti hopes to sell 50,000 A-stars this year

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Kochi, Nov 21 (UNI) Maruti Suzuki is hoping to sell nearly 50,000 units of its newly launched model A-star this fiscal, company Chief General Manager-Engineering C V Raman said today.

Addressing a press conference here to announce the Kerala launch of the 998 cc petrol engine car, Mr Raman said Maruti Suzuki would commence export of A-star to Europe in early 2009 and expected the vehicle to contribute half of the company's export target of 200,000 units by 2010-11.

Describing Kerala as an important market for Maruti Suzuki, he said the state accounted for almost ten per cent of the company sales.

While declaring that recession had not affected Maruti Suzuki, which was expecting to end 2008-09 with a three per cent year-on-year growth, Mr Raman however admitted that this was far below the growth achieved last year.

''However, we are still being able to grow as compared to others who are registering negative rates,'' he added.

While stating that the company was ''well geared to take care of the market requirements,'' Mr Raman said its responsibility to its shareholders did not permit it to drop prices any further, as suggested by Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

Describing the customers' reluctance to buy as a ''temporary phase,'' Mr Raman said this could be overcome once the liquidity issue was addressed.

The vehicle would be available ex-showroom in Kochi at prices ranging from Rs 3.47 lakh to Rs 3.75 lakh and Rs 4.12 lakh for the three variants.

Stating that A-star was Maruti Suzuki's eighth vehicle launched in less than 40 months, Mr Raman said it reinforced the company's dominance of the highly competitive A-2 segment where it had a 55 per cent market share.

UNI ARC ROY 1454

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