Monday, 25 July 2011

Maruti puts Tata Motors on notice with M800 plan




Maruti Suzuki India pulled out of the mini car space in 13 cities last April when it stopped selling its bread & butter model M800 due to the onset of the stricter BS IV emission norms.
The iconic hatchback, which began India’s auto revolution when it was launched in 1983, is set for a re-run with a spiffier engine that meets pollution regulations across India. ‘Mules’ — or a set of test cars — are currently being road-tested.
As per the Autocar India magazine, the new M800 will sport the same 796 cc, three motor engine which currently runs the Alto. In fact, it would be based on the Alto platform itself.
“It is expected to have all-new interiors and will be a little bit more spacious than before. Maruti is targeting a sub-¤2 lakh price to distance the car from the Alto by at least ¤40,000 and put it smack into Tata Nano territory,” the magazine said. A Maruti spokesperson declined comment.
But if Maruti is indeed bringing a new M800, this will be almost a year after it gave up working on a ‘cost down’ Alto. Experts said the move makes sense because there is less competition in sub-Rs 2 lakh category.
“A new Maruti 800 at that price will be a good value proposition for those looking to buy an affordable car. There was this void ever since Maruti decelerated on the production of Maruti 800s. India’s largest carmaker has been focusing on higher-end cars like Swift and Dzire, where the competition is intensifying drastically. Maruti 800 is one segment in which competitors have not really been able to deliver,” said Prakash Diwan, head - institutional business, Networth Stock Broking.

The M800 refresh will come at a time when the Tata Nano has been struggling. Ratan Tata’s dream car initially faced some quality issues and then suffered because of lack of financing options and the absence of a model-specific distribution strategy.
Though these anomalies were later corrected by Tata Motors, sales and dispatches of the Nano have slowed down once again.
At present, Maruti sells about 2,500 units of M800 a month across India, excluding the 13 top cities which follow BS IV emission norms.

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