With just one diesel powerplant in it’s bag that caters to most of its lineup, Maruti Suzuki is looking forward to import more powerful 1.6 litre multijet diesel engine from Fiat Italy starting next year. A new Maruti SX4 Crossover is slated for early 2015 launch and should serve as a launchpad for the new 1.6L multijet diesel before it is extended to other Utility Vehicles and sedans in Maruti Suzuki’s portfolio.
Sources state that “The upcoming SX4 crossover, which has already been launched in Europe, will be available with both a 1.3-litre and 1.6-litre diesel engines in India. The first is already made here, so the plan is to initially import the 1.6-litre diesel engine from Fiat and if the volumes are significantly high, then locally manufacture it afterwards depending on the licence agreement with Fiat. This engine will later be introduced in other sedans and UVs as well.
When asked on the import plans, a Maruti spokesperson was quoted saying “We will not comment on product plans”. However a few months back, Mayank Pareek Maruti’s COO for sales and marketing stated “Our share of diesel cars is low – for the industry it is 53%, while for us it is 30%. So we are still reacting to increased demand for diesel cars.”
With only the Fiat-sourced 1.3 L multijet available under two variants i.e. 90ps and 75ps- it does get imperative for Maruti to look forward to a more powerful motor to garner a chunk of the compact SUV segment where the Ford Ecosport and the Renault Duster have been enjoying a healthy market share. Further onslaught is expected by Hyundai, Mahindra and Honda who would be readying their SUV’s for 2015 launch in what at present seems a lucrative proposition. Maruti’s compact SUV showcased at the Delhi Auto Expo in 2012 as the ‘XA Alpha’ concept isn’t expected before 2016 and Maruti expects to plug the time-lag with an SX4 Crossover slated in a 9-10 lakh price bracket.
The urgency can be noticed in Mayank Pareek recent statement where he said “I am always asking the engineering guys to quicken their work on SUVs, it is the need of the hour. I expect to see a 3-4% jump in our market share once we roll out our SUVs. Its among the fastest growing sectors today and accounts for about 21% of car sales and we are not present there, so we are losing out.”
As per Kenichi Ayukawa, Maruti’s MD & CEO who stated that though Suzuki is developing its own diesel engines, its but obvious that Maruti would be missing the bus in 2014.