Coming up: A fuel efficient automatic Celerio from Maruti next month

Industry sources say the Celerio will be a one litre petrol car in two transmissions - manual and automatic. The automatic may become the variant to watch out for since these sources point out that this car will probably deliver mileage of over 20 kmpl.

Sindhu Bhattacharya January 13, 2014 11:20:45 IST
Coming up: A fuel efficient automatic Celerio from Maruti next month

New Delhi: A new small car, with some variants priced below Rs 4 lakh, is on its way next month from Maruti Suzuki India's stable. The company has already ceased production of two hatchbacks - A Star and Estilo - and the new car will be showcased at next month's Auto Expo.

Called Celerio, this car promises to showcase something Indian drivers are not very used to. Industry sources say the Celerio will be a one litre petrol car in two transmissions - manual and automatic. The automatic may become the variant to watch out for since these sources point out that this car will probably deliver mileage of over 20 kmpl.

Why is the mileage Celerio's talking point? Because typically, the automatic transmission of any car offers fuel efficiency which is at least 25-30% less than the manual transmission variant. The Celerio, these sources say, will aim to offer good enough mileage and the automatic transmission of this car can also be driven in the manual mode.

Coming up A fuel efficient automatic Celerio from Maruti next month

Picture courtesy: http://www.suzuki.com.ph

Sources pointed out that Maruti's Japanese parent, Suzuki Motor Corp, took about three years to develop the technology which has raised the fuel efficiency of the automatic variant to almost equal that of the manual transmission vehicle. India will be the first market where Suzuki will offer this technology though Celerio will also be available in a pure play manual variant.

India has never really been a market for automatic variants since people associate the comforts of an automatic drive with much higher fuel costs and faster wear and tear. These downsides of the automatic may well be addressed with the Celerio.

As of now, the car will be available in manual as well as manual + automatic variants and initially, Maruti may look to sell 50,000-60,000 units in the first year after launch, vendor sources told Firstpost.

The car will come with only a petrol engine as of now. An online story on zigwheels.com calls the automatic variant the Automatic Manual Transmission or the AMT and says this uses manual shift patterns at the gear lever but without the physical input for the clutch. "By automating the clutching mechanism but leaving the gear shifting mechanism to the driver, the gearbox becomes cheaper to manufacture and as a result should find more takers. By relieving the driver from engaging and disengaging the clutch, the stress of driving through stop-start traffic is also reduced considerably," zigwheels.com says.

Industry sources point out that at least some variants of the new car would be priced below the Rs 4 lakh benchmark price. They said that typically, the automatic variant of any car is pricier from the manual transmission variant by about Rs 1 lakh but in the case of Celerio, the price difference between the two variants would be "much less".

Maruti is taking considerable risk with its Celerio strategy since the passenger car market is going through one of its longest recessionary phases in recent memory and the company wants to ride into market revival with a brand new technology which may or may not be accepted by the consumer. But then Maruti has rarely seen its product strategy thwarted by market dynamics and perhaps, the Celerio AMT will work well.

A story in the Mint newspaper says this morning that despite the domestic car market declining, Maruti's market share in the nine months ended 31 December rose to the highest in three years as it recovered from a labour unrest in 2012 and sold more vehicles in small towns and villages.

Maruti's share stood at 49.24% from 43.85% in the same period a year ago, according to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Largely, this has to do with Maruti's ability to penetrate the Indian hinterland faster than competitors and its already wide distribution network. Celerio may benefit from both these strength

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