Maruti Suzuki India, which is gradually increasing focus on the premium car segment after dominating the core market of small cars for years, expects its new 'Ciaz' midsize sedan to emerge as the top brand in the segment beating current leader, the new Honda City, and the Hyundai Verna. While bookings opened on Wednesday, the Ciaz will be launched in the middle of the festive season - first week of October at an estimated price of about Rs 7 lakh (petrol) and Rs 8 lakh (diesel).
The carmaker, which today commands almost 45% of India's 25 lakh units passenger vehicle market, has traditionally found it tough to make headway in premium C and D sedan segments with previous models, the SX4 and Kizashi, failing to make a significant impact. Among rivals, the City currently sells about 7,000 units a month, the Verna does about 5,000 units, followed by the Volkswagen Vento and Skoda Rapid.
Mayank Pareek, COO, sales & marketing at Maruti Suzuki said, "The market size of the A3+ (midsize sedan) segment is about 16,000 units a month and we are aiming for leadership. In the A3-segment, the Dzire is already the market leader. We have a lot of loyal customers looking to upgrade from A3- and our premium hatchbacks and they will be a major target."
"This is the first step of a whole new product range coming from Maruti, especially in the upper segments. There are many products slated over the next 2-3 years," a company official added. Industry sources said that Maruti is expected to soon launch a compact SUV/crossover in the Rs 11 lakh range, while it is also said to be working on two more SUVs, a premium hatchback and a large MPV.
To make sure the Ciaz is successful in the market, Maruti has trained 2,800 staff across the company and dealer to interact with a more premium set of customers. "We learnt after the Kizashi experience, that importing fully-built models make no sense. Also, the way you sell an Alto is very different from how you sell a bigger car. The premium customer wants a relationship and may close a buy in two weeks, an Alto buyer has already decided and will purchase within a week," Pareek said.
Designed largely in Japan, the Ciaz will be most fuel-efficient car in India - the diesel variant claims a 26.2 kmpl fuel economy beating Honda City diesel's