Maruti Suzuki India’s premium hatchback model, the Baleno, will be the first model to roll out from parent Suzuki Motor Corporation’s Mehsana plant in Gujarat from January 2017, according to sources in the know.
Maruti is believed to be looking at initial units of around 85,000 units for the Baleno in Gujarat of which around half will be the 1.3-litre diesel variant. The car comes in both petrol and diesel options with the automatic transmission coming in petrol.
The second model to roll out from the factory in 2018 will be the new Swift Dzire that is being developed on a new platform with many innovations.
Maruti Suzuki, which currently produces the Baleno at the Manesar plant in Haryana, may eventually explore options of shifting entire Baleno production to Suzuki’s Gujarat plant to release manufacturing capacity at its two Haryana facilities for other upcoming models.
The carmaker has already indicated that construction work on the Gujarat factory is on track and will go on stream in early 2017. The first assembly line will roll out 250,000 units with other manufacturing lines to be added based on market demand.
RC Bhargava, chairman of Maruti Suzuki India, confirmed to Autocar Professional that Maruti would start production by January or February in Gujarat and the plant schedule is on track. He, however, maintained that currently there are no plans to shift the entire Baleno production to Gujarat. “We are now back to normal production at our Manesar and Gurgaon plants and there will be no shortfall in production across all models in a few months. All the targets will be met.”
Both the plants had discontinued production for a couple of days due to the outbreak of fire at a key AC kit supplier Subros’ manufacturing facility at Manesar. The carmaker had then advanced its annual maintenance closure of the factories to enable restoration of supplies from Subros of its air-conditioning kits.
With the company targeting about 70,000 units of Baleno exports per annum initially, according to sources, and then ramping up numbers, manufacturing it additionally at Gujarat within close proximity to the Mundra Port would make sense.
Baleno sales in good nick
Overall, the Baleno has seen good demand following its launch last October as is also being witnessed by the Vitara Brezza. So far it has delivered 64,000 units in the domestic market and has an 8-month booking. Interestingly, a sales executive at the Nexa dealership in New Delhi pegs the petrol sales at 60 percent of the total with the diesel portfolio contributing the balance. The most sought-after trim at the Nexa outlet continues to be the Delta edition in the mid-trim level both in the petrol and diesel options.
Maruti commenced exports of the made-in-India Baleno for the first time to Suzuki in Japan around end- January 2016 from the Mundra Port in Gujarat. This was followed by exports to Europe in February after an interregnum of about 3-4 years. The Baleno will be exported to about 100 global markets as part of Maruti Suzuki’s plan to carry forward the Indian government’s Make in India programme.
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