India’s Maruti Suzuki will offer a fuel-efficient version of the Alto

Maruti Suzuki is betting that a larger, more fuel-efficient version of its small sedan, Alto, can bring buyers back to a segment that has long dominated Indian roads but has recently lost popularity among sports utility vehicles (SUVs). ).

Hatchbacks are the backbone of personal transportation in India, accounting for 38% of total car sales, but SUVs, with their sporty body styles and in-car connectivity features, took the lead last fiscal year with a share of about 40%.

India’s biggest automaker hopes to buck this trend by targeting younger buyers in big cities with its new Alto which is bigger than its predecessor, has a bigger one-litre engine and more features, Shashank Srivastava said, general manager of marketing and sales.

“We have a bigger and more powerful car…and geographically we are also expanding the base,” Srivastava told Reuters ahead of the car’s launch on Thursday.

He said about 65% of Alto sales come from small towns, but with the new model, Maruti is targeting big-city buyers between the ages of 25 and 35.

Maruti, majority-owned by Japanese Suzuki Motor, dominates India’s entry-level small car segment with models like the Alto, which has been a top seller in the country for several years. But with high inflation and other factors driving up car prices, the growth of small cars has slowed.

“Affordability in this segment has gone down for a variety of reasons. The sensitivity to price increases is much higher,” he said, adding that Alto is the first car for many buyers – a cost-conscious segment that Maruti will continue to target.

“This segment will play a very important role in the future,” Srivastava said, adding that early buyers account for 50 percent of cars sold in the country.

Entry-level cars like Alto currently account for around 15% of Maruti’s total annual sales and Srivastava expects this to increase with the new model.

Maruti expects total car sales in India to reach around 3.7 million this year, up from around 3.1 million last year, it said. But that could be impacted by high inflation and material costs, supply chain disruptions, as well as new regulations.

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