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Maruti to take Hyundai head-on in export market

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Apr 14 (UNI) In its effort to narrow the widening gap with Hyundai in the fast expanding global market for India-made small cars, Suzuki-Maruti combine has chalked an aggessive plan to jack up its exports to substantial levels by 2008-09.

Maruti, India's top car maker, has seen its exports slump by 28.87 per cent to 34,781 units during fiscal 2005-06 from 48,899 units in 2004-05, according to figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

Whereas, Hyundai, country's No.2 car manufacturer, closed fiscal 2005-06 with exports at 1,02,092 units.

''Demand is going down in Europe. We are seeking newer markets to enhance exports by 2008-09,'' MUL Chairman S Nakanishi told reporters.

He said the demand for Maruti's 'Alto' has significantly gone down in the European markets.

Auto expert Ronojoy Majmudar says Maruti sells Suzuki phase-outs in the overseas market whereas Hyundai sells its current model 'Santro'.

''Maruti export models are not contemporary as compared to Hyundai models in the overseas market. This is why Maruti is suffering. People do not want to buy phase-outs,'' he said.

Elaborating on Maruti's plans, Mr Nakanishi said the company was looking at using the 'Swift' platform for introducing variants for exports.

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

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

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.'' 'Zen' sales has seen a steady decline since the launch of the Swift. Further, since Maruti already had three other models addressing the compact car segment, it would make sense to phase out the 'Zen', experts say.

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 SR RA VC1845

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