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Maruti scouting for new export markets

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Apr 13 (UNI) Faced by declining exports, India's top car maker Maruti Udyog Ltd (MUL) today said it is scouting for new markets to beef up its overseas business.

''Demand is going down in Europe. We are seeking newer markets,'' MUL Chairman S Nakanishi told reporters.

He said that the company was exploring various locations like Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore for exporting the popular 'Swift' hatchback.

''Swift is a right hand drive vehicle. So, we have to find countries with right hand drive,'' Mr Nakanishi said.

Maruti's exports have slumpped by 28.87 per cent to 34,781 units during the fiscal year 2005-06, according to figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

Last year, the company exported 48,899 vehicles.

When asked about whether the company was planning to phase out the 'Zen', MUL Managing Director Jagdish Khattar said, ''There was no plans to phase out the Zen.'' Industry sources point out that sales of the Zen saw a steady decline after the launch of the Swift, probably affecting the growth of models such as the 'WagonR' and 'Alto'.

Further, since Maruti already had three other models addressing the compact car segment, it would make sense to phase out the 'Zen'.

Meanwhile, MUL is setting up a new plant in Manesar with an annual capacity 0f 1,00,000 units which can be extended to 3,00,000 units. The new car plant will begin commercial production by the end of 2006.

''By 2008-09 Maruti will have a total capacity of 8,50,000 units,'' Mr Khattar said.

At present, Maruti's capacity is 6,00,000 units per annum.

UNI SBJ SR GC1833

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