As entry-level car buyers seek more in terms of features and power, and Maruti Suzuki’s Alto 800 witnessing a lacklustre demand even after a complete re-design in 2012, the car maker is now gearing up to launch a completely new Alto K10 compact hatchback this fiscal to boost volumes.
With a new design language similar to the Celerio and featuring the automated manual transmission (AMT) technology that has seen success with consumers seeking driving comfort in traffic-heavy urban markets, the new Alto K10 will look to meet the new challengers — the Datsun Go and Hyundai Eon 1.0 — head on.
The Alto 800 is currently priced at Rs 2.37 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and the Alto K10 at Rs 3.15 lakh. In comparison, the Datsun Go (features a larger 1.2 litre petrol engine) was launched in March this year at Rs 3.12 lakh. Interestingly, Hyundai follows a strategy similar to the Alto with its entry model Eon — it was initially launched in end-2011 with a 800cc petrol engine (Rs 2.83 lakh), but from this month an additional 1-litre petrol engine variant (Rs 3.83 lakh) is also being offered to cater to those buyers who are looking for more power.
“The new Alto K10 will be launched around January 2015. The design has completely been changed and it will now offer more space, more modern interiors as well as the AMT auto gear technology,” a source close to the development said.
When asked for comment over email, a Maruti Suzuki spokesperson said, “As a policy we do not comment on future product plans.”
According to Gaurav Vangaal, an automotive analyst for light vehicle forecasting at IHS, “The small hatchback segment always remains a stronghold for Maruti Suzuki, and with Hyundai launching the Eon with 1 litre engine option, it makes sense to provide Alto K10 with major face-lift in the market. Indeed, Maruti is always a step ahead to penetrate segment with cost-effective technologies & offerings.”
Made at Maruti’s Gurgaon plant, the current generation Alto is largely for the Indian market and sees exports to few markets such as Africa and South America. The Alto has been a major global brand for Suzuki, of which at least four generations have been sold in India under different names like Zen, Maruti 800 and A-Star.
Sales for the new Alto 800 had initially been strong after the September 2012 launch, but volumes of the overall Alto brand have progressively taken a hit with a dip of 3% to 2.58 lakh units in April-March FY14. However, it retained its position as the top-seller in the country — Maruti has four models out of the top five top-selling models in FY14 including the Swift, Dzire and WagonR. In FY14, Maruti’s overall domestic sales were up 0.25% at R10.53 lakh units.
The Maruti Suzuki scrip closed up 0.52% at R1,909.60 on the BSE on Tuesday.