Maruti plans SX4-based crossover

The SX4 in the hatchback version occupies a niche in a market of five-door mini-SUV crossovers in Europe and is available in petrol variants of 1.5 to 2.0-litre engines

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 03 Jan 2013 Views icon3164 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Maruti plans SX4-based crossover
These include facelifts as well as new launches. The SX4 saloon, that has not really taken off with just about 500-1,000 units being produced monthly, is the first to go.

As far as new models go, one vehicle is slated to be introduced on the SX4 platform (codenamed YAD); that will be a crossover that is widely used in Europe. It will be rolled out in India in mid-2014.

The other SX4 model (codenamed YL1) will be a new upgraded saloon that is likely to be launched in the latter part of 2013 or early 2014 with a variety of new features. The SX4 model, originally planned for Europe, is designed by Giugiaro’s ItalDesign studio and is in production since 2006 with the SX4 shared by Fiat and Suzuki; the Fiat-badged model is known as Fiat Sedici. For developing markets like India and China, the saloon version of the same name was developed with a crossover styling. Globally, Suzuki calls the SX4 a ‘sporty crossover’, and the carmaker showcased it at the Auto Expo 2012. Maruti is believed to be targeting a production capacity of 100,000 units per annum for both the new SX4 crossover and saloon models, say sources in the know.

The SX4 in the hatchback version occupies a niche in a market of five-door mini-SUV crossovers in Europe and is available in petrol variants of 1.5 to 2.0-litre engines. In diesel trim, the SUV crossover is powered with Fiat’s 1.3 to 2.0-litre engines and is available as a 4WD. It is expected to be introduced in India with similar engine options to boost flagging sales of the SX4, as Maruti is keen to be seen both as a saloon as well as a small car player.

According to SIAM data, the SX4 sold 4,248 units in the domestic market between April-November 2012 compared to 11,662 units in the same period a year ago. It sold 692 units in November 2012 compared to 1,433 units in November 2011. Similarly, production dipped from 12,713 units (FY 12) to 4,325 units in the April-November 2012 period. Exports also nosedived from 374 units to just four units in the same period in 2012-13 due to the slowdown in Europe. Instead, the carmaker is targeting markets like Algeria, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Chile for the SX4.

One of the reasons for this steep fall in SX4 sales has been the shifting of production capacity to the popular Swift and Dzire models to cater to the long waiting lists that resulted following the shutdown of the Manesar plant due to labour problems.

The increase in daily production of diesel engines to meet demand for diesel cars has also been moved towards the popular Swift and Dzire models compared to the SX4. This has brought down the waiting periods for the two models to 4-6 months from the earlier six months. But despite clearance of earlier bookings for the two models, a cumulative backlog of 110,000 units still continues, divided equally between the two cars, according to Mayank Pareek, managing executive officer (sales & marketing).

The SX4 saloon, despite being powered by a 1.6-litre petrol and Fiat’s 1.3 Multijet DDiS engine that also powers the Swift and Dzire and with CNG trim, has seen demand slacken as buyers have taken to the new Hyundai Verna due to its styling, and better diesel 1.4 and 1.6-litre engine offerings.

Work underway on new 800cc diesel engine

Meanwhile, Maruti Suzuki is getting its new 800cc diesel engine ready in Japan; this motor will power its new small car that will be launched in end-2013 or early 2014.

The new five-door model on the A-star platform (codenamed YL-7) is expected to be rolled out just before Diwali and will offer the same petrol and diesel variants as available in the current A-star, say sources.

Also in the pipeline is an upgraded Swift in petrol and diesel variants and a Zen that is due to be out in 2013.

SHOBHA MATHUR
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