Expect long waits for the Maruti Suzuki Celerio
By Siddharth Vinayak Patankar
1 mins read
Published on March 1, 2014
The recently launched Celerio hatch from the country's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India has been a runaway hit. The car debuted at last month's Auto Expo, and brought with it India's first AMT or Automated Manual Transmission. The use of this technology allows MSIL to keep costs lower than what they would have been with a conventional automatic gearbox. The other advantage is that the AMT allows drivers to achieve similar levels of fuel effciency as the manual counterpart.
These are the two reasons why the company's Chairman, Mr R C Bhargava says the Celerio AMT variants have been much sought after. So much in fact, that the demand has far outstripped what the company had internally estimated. While Maruti had planned for the AMT to account for approximately 20% of production, the actual bookings have seen the AMT variant crossing the 50% mark! Since the AMT box is imported by Maruti from two vendors, getting them to increase production and up Maruti's order is proving to be tough.
This alone will mean that even though Maruti would like to increase the overall production of the AMT variants, it is unable to do so in a hurry. So naturally my question then was how long will this siatuation be allowed to persist? Mr Bhargava has assured me that future orders for the AMT are being renewed at higher levels as we speak! Mr Bhargava warns that this will unfortunately mean a longer wait for customers.
So just like several hit models for the company in past, the Celerio too will make its buyers wait for months! But the advantage Maruti has always had is - most buyers do end up waiting patiently. This may hold true even more for the AMT since it is the only car currently available with the AMT gearbox, in the Indian market. Tata Motors has already announced plans for the AMT to make an appearance on its soon-to-market Zest sedan. The other homegrown auto giant, Mahindra says it too is in the middle of its development stage with AMT.
Some of M&M's current and future models are being tested with the AMT for feasibility - from an engineering, production and marketing point of view. So until those cars - or indeed any other cost-competitive automatics make an appearance, the Celerio will have what looks like a field day with a monopoly of sorts. Existing auto boxes in spitting distance of the Celerio are either antiquated to an extent, or too expensive for most buyers to consider. The Celerio LXi is priced at Rs 4.14 lakh while the VXi is priced at Rs 4.43 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). The top-end ZXi is only available in manual transmission.
Dual airbags and ABS are also the preserve of just the ZXi (with option pack), while the stock ZXi is the only other variant with a driver-side airbag. Meanwhile the other piece of interesting news is that given the overwhelming success of the AMT Celerio, Maruti is now keenly considering the technology for its other models. Some of its existing cars like the popular Swift and Wagon R, and also future models like the next gen SX4, may well get a version of the AMT - though of course none of this will happen in weeks, it will take months.
I am excited though at the prospect of a slew of models - from Maruti and others - that will sport affordable and efficient automatic options. Given the traffic conditions in most of our cities (which arent getting better, only worse), this could be the start of a huge trend for Indian car buyers in the offing. Bring it on, right?
Last Updated on March 3, 2014
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