KARNATAKA

Maruti Suzuki launches its ‘greenest car’

A-Star is mainly aimed at the export market.

A-Star is mainly aimed at the export market.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: R.V. Moorthy

Special Correspondent

Bangalore: Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. (MSIL), the biggest car manufacturer in India, launched its latest model, the A-Star, in Bangalore on Thursday. Unveiling the car at a media conference here, Mayank Pareek, Executive Officer (Marketing and Sales), MSIL, said the car was primarily aimed at export market.

Mr. Pareek said the company plans to export about two-third of the A-Star output, which are manufactured at its plant at Manesar, near Gurgaon in Haryana. The company plans to export 1,00,000-1,50,000 A-Stars in the next year. Mr. Pareek said about 50,000 will be sold in the domestic market. The company also plans to sell the A-Star to Nissan, which will carry the Nissan brand name.

Ram Suresh Akella, Regional Manager (South) of the company, said MSIL’s agreement with Nissan would ensure that these cars are not sold in national markets where MSIL will be exporting to. Asked whether the time was right for launching a new car, Mr. Akella said the A-Star has been “launched in difficult times, but was conceptualised well before the onset of the recession.” Mr. Pareek claimed that the A-Star “is the greenest car ever”. He said this is not only because of its fuel efficiency (the company claims a mileage of 19.59 km per litre of petrol) but also because the car is free of hazardous material such as cadmium, lead, mercury and chromium. Despite the recession, the demand for small cars is likely to stay healthy, he said.

“The car is primarily aimed at markets in Western Europe,” he added.

The company had stopped exports to Europe in 2006. The A-Star, which, he said, is fully compliant with the latest European norms for cars (the Euro 5 norms), will enable the company to ride back into these markets again.

Exports of the A-Star are likely to commence in January 2009. Sales to Nissan are likely to start in the first quarter of 2009. In 2007-08, MSIL exported 53,000 cars.

Mr. Pareek said growth of sales in 2008-09 is “likely to remain flat”. “We expect good growth in the next year, mainly driven by A-Star,” he said.

The Manesar plant, which has an annual production capacity of three lakh cars, is the production base for the Swift, the Swift DZire, the SX4 and now the A-Star.

The ex-showroom (introductory price) in Bangalore of the base version of the A-Star (Lxi) is Rs. 3,46,254. The middle variant is priced at Rs. 3,73,407 and the “fully loaded” version Rs. 4,10,407.

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