As fuel prices hit a record high, India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL) launched the all-new version of its premium hatchback Celerio with a fuel efficiency of 26.68 kilometre per litre, making it the country’s most fuel-efficient petrol car.
The new model, at a base price of Rs 4.99 lakh, strengthens MSIL’s position in the hatchback segment, which it dominates with more than 60 per cent market share.
Compact and entry-level cars comprise a big volume in India since hatchbacks form nearly 46 per cent of the passenger car market.
“It is with this background that we decided to present the all-new Celerio to the Indian customer. We are proud to introduce the next-generation (gen) K10C engine to the company portfolio with the model,” said Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kenichi Ayukawa.
The new-gen hatchback is based on MSIL’s Heartect platform that also underpins the WagonR. It will be larger than the outgoing model and boasts of a completely new design, inside out.
The new Celerio is the first model powered by the K10C petrol engine. The Celerio now gets dualjet technology (tech) and idle start-stop system, which could make it India’s most fuel-efficient car.
“Improvement in engine was done to reduce commercial efficiency, reduce road load, ideal start-stop, and aerodynamics. We need to bring in new tech to meet the new regulations like CAFE norms, safety norms or aspiration of customers.
We were working over the past three years to develop the new Celerio. This is the first product from our fifth-gen platform,” said C V Raman, chief technical officer (engineering), MSIL.
Raman said MSIL’s other popular entry-level models will also be produced with the K10 powertrain.
Shashank Srivastava, executive director of sales at the company, said the product is targeted primarily at a younger working class. “We discovered an interesting phenomenon when we studied the nature of demand for the older Celerio. We found it was primarily popular in cities like Pune, Bengaluru, which have a techie workforce. The demand was to make the product more spacious,” said Srivastava.
When asked about the sport utility vehicle (SUV) segment, where the company has ceded market share to rivals like Hyundai, Srivastava said the company has commenced development work on new models to expand its current line-up.
“We recognise there is some white space available. We are targeting to increase our presence in the SUV space with new product offerings,” added Srivastava.
Commenting on the market situation, Ayukawa said the second quarter turned out to be another challenging period for the company because of unprecedented global supply crisis of electronic components.
The industry, at large, witnessed significant disruption in production operations. But the automotive industry braved all odds and soldiered on, he said.
“In terms of volume, we may still be lower than our best (2018-19), but I am confident we will attain those levels,” added Ayukawa.