Country’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki, is set to launch a mini truck next year, which would be priced close to India’s best selling mini truck Tata Ace. Sources said the Delhi-based company is likely to price the one tonne four-wheeled vehicle under Rs 400,000 for the diesel variant and between Rs 450,000-500,000 for the CNG variant.
The launch will take place in 2015. Such a pricing would put it directly against the Tata Ace, which is priced at Rs 366,156 (Ace HT variant, BS-IV, ex-showroom, Delhi). In addition to the Ace the new Maruti will also compete with Mahindra Gio, Piaggio Ape Truk and Force Motors Trump.
A small 800cc diesel engine is presently under joint development by Suzuki Motor Corporation and Maruti Suzuki, making it the smallest diesel engine within the Suzuki family. The CNG version will carry a only CNG specific engine of around 1200cc, sources added.
When contacted a Maruti Suzuki India spokesperson said, "We have stated Maruti Suzuki's intent to foray into the Light commercial vehicle segment. However, we cannot share the timelines, schedule, price etc, at this stage."
The company is targeting to enter the 14,000 units a month strong mini truck segment.
This segment has seen a decline over the past several quarters because of the on-going economic slowdown. However with a pick up in demand expected by end of next two quarters, the segment is expected to be back to its earlier levels of over 21,000 units a month.
The yet unnamed mini truck by Maruti will be built at the company's oldest plant in Gurgaon plant. The company is yet to finalise the branding and distribution method to be adopted for the new vehicle.
"The Maruti Suzuki team is yet to freeze the distribution channel for the mini truck. Whether it should be sold through a new line of dealerships or through existing dealerships is yet to be decided", the source said.
This new mini truck by Maruti is based on the light truck Suzuki Carry model, which the company produces and sells in Indonesia among other markets. However, company engineers have completely redesigned the model to suit Indian requirements.
The sub-2 tonne truck segment generates 42 per cent of the overall commercial vehicle sales of Tata Motors. The company which is the biggest commercial vehicle manufacturer in the country saw nearly 120,000 units sales coming from the Ace family from the sub-2 tonne category.
Further, Maruti plans to sell the truck only as a commercial vehicle unlike competition who have modified their platforms to make passenger carrier versions of their mini truck also. The Tata Magic Iris is allowed to sell as a passenger vehicle also though it was launched as a commercial passenger carrier.