Maruti Celerio diesel version plan gets delayed by 3-6 months
Maruti Suzuki has decided to go slow on launching the 800cc diesel engine powered small car and a small commercial vehicle due to a slowdown in domestic sales of mini-trucks and consumers’ preference for petrol as diesel loses its price advantage, people aware of the development said.
The car maker could delay these two new launches by about 3-6 months, the persons quoted earlier said, adding that the automaker has told vendors that volumes for the first year will be 70-80 p ..
per cent lower than projected. As against the earlier expectation of selling 80,000-90,000 units of the small commercial vehicle (SCV) and small diesel car per annum, Maruti now expects to produce 600-700 units of SCV and about 1,000 units of diesel Celerio, which comes to only about 20 per cent or 15,000 units per annum.
Production of the diesel Celerio, which was to begin in December 2014, is likely to start only after April. Similarly, the start of production of the mini-truck has been pushed to April-end from the earlier plan of January 2015. A spokesperson for Maruti said the issues surrounding the SCV and the diesel Celerio are unrelated and should not been clubbed together.
“For the introduction of any new model or technology, such as a new diesel engine, several rounds of testing are undertaken to ensure that the product delivered to the customer is of top quality. The decision to go for a pilot for the LCV is independent. It was decided several months back since we are entering a new category of vehicles,” the spokesperson said.
Apart from a slowing market, people close to the company said the development of the diesel engine has faced some technical issues and Maruti Suzuki wants to be sure of its quality and performance
Experts say it is always a challenge to fit an 800cc engine into a hatchback and achieve the level of refinement seen in bigger hatchbacks, especially regarding noise, vibration and harshness, a challenge that Nano diesel faced. Maruti, which has bucked the trend by growing in double digit this fiscal, was banking on 4-6 new models in FY16. The Celerio diesel and SCV were expected to be key contributors.
Gaurav Vangaal, senior analyst, forecasting, at IHS Automotive, said: “Every manufacturer wants to make sure that the best product hits the road to ensure enrichment of consumer experience and if it is true (delay on account of testing), it can be blessing in disguise with diminished fuel price gap and sluggish LCV market.”