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Doshi led Premier Auto to launch SUV
Company to launch sub 4-metre SUV; cheapest in India
By : Swaraj Baggonkar | Published : October 10, 2009 | Photos : BSM
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Nine years after it exited the business, Premier Auto is making a comeback in passenger cars. The Doshi family, promoters of one of India’s oldest car companies, known for the once-ubiquitious Premier Padmini, are set to launch a compact sports utility vehicle (SUV).

The rollout of the mini-SUV, called Rio, will also mark the entry of a Chinese four-wheeler company into India. Zotye Auto, a little-known Chinese manufacturer, will partner Premier in the venture. Zotye will supply vehicle kits to Premier to be assembled at Premier’s Pune facility which has a peak annual capacity of 20,000 units.

Zotye will export completely knocked down (CKD) kits from China and Premier will provide a diesel power plant for the vehicle along with its assembly line at Chinchwad, near Pune. Zotye Auto will be paid by Premier for providing the CKD kits.

Although the vehicle won't be fully built in India, both companies are keen to make it the cheapest SUV in the country. It is understood that the base variant of Rio will be priced at Rs 5 lakh, making it 30 per cent cheaper than its nearest competitor, Mahindra Scorpio.

The top-end variant, expected to be priced at around Rs 7 lakh, will have safety features like air bags and anti-lock braking systems, said people with direct knowledge of the company’s plans. The launch will take place this month after Diwali, they added.

Rio is a first-generation model from Daihatsu (a Toyota-owned brand) called Terios, which was in production from 1997 to 2005. The second generation Terios is sold with a Toyota badge in some international markets and with a Daihatsu badge in others.

Zotye had bought the tools and parts of the earlier Terios model from Daihatsu the same way that Tata Motors bought the tools and dies from French car maker Renault to produce a utility van called Traffic. Tata Motors produces and sells the vehicle as Winger in India.

Premier is expected to fit its own four-cylinder, 1.5 diesel engine, which produces peak power of 65 bhp into the Rio with a five-speed manual gearshift. The compact vehicle will be smaller than the Mahindra Scorpio in terms of length and width.

The Mumbai-based company is not keen to use its existing dealership set-up, which primarily sells a 1.4 tonne light commercial vehicle (LCV). Premier has already put in place 20 new dealers to serve the new vehicle and another 30 will be added by the end of the year.

Chinese two-wheeler manufacturers have been trying to foray into India, but all had to withdraw due to inadequate demand. For example, the Lifan Group tried to sell motorcycles and automatic scooters but failed to make much headway.

Premier Automobiles Ltd (PAL, the erstwhile name of company) manufactured the Premier Padmini from 1968 to 2000. The car ruled Indian roads for three decades before it made way for new–generation cars led by Maruti.

The company had forged alliances with France's largest car maker, Peugeot (now Peugeot-Citroen) and then with Italy's popular car company, Fiat.

But labour unrest that forced a lock-out for three months at the Kurla plant in Mumbai and the subsequent devaluation of the rupee, increased the cost of imports from France for Peugeot. PAL-Peugeot faced mounting losses as a result and ultimately decided to terminate the joint venture in 1999.

Fiat, meanwhile, got into a technical arrangement with PAL to make the Uno from the same plant through CKD units. Subsequently, Fiat took control of the plant when its automotive division was spun off as a separate unit.

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  Posted by Raj K Aggarwala at 22nd March,2012
I am waiting to buy one RIO
  Posted by Dr. V.S.Arya at 8th February,2012
whether there is auto tranmission model also in Premier Rio. pls. tell.
  Posted by Gautam Pal at 12th September,2011
Product is good . Will definately attaract masses especially youth. Needs to organise the Dealer / after sales service.
  Posted by amit at 15th March,2011
hi, i like rio suv.but i want to know wt the price of this suv,we are living in canada, next 2 month i m going in india,pls send me all details,
  Posted by avtar singh mutti at 5th March,2011
sir i want to buy rio top model can i know price and details
  Posted by K J Nawgiri at 14th February,2011
i want to buy RIO SUV. I am staying at Jalna, Maharashtra . where is the Dealer near Jalna?
  Posted by pinak tripathi at 4th February,2011
when premier rio will launch in lko. in 2011
  Posted by alex at 1st February,2011
sir , i want to bye rio suv. i am staying at kochi, it posible?
  Posted by toshi at 19th December,2010
I'm staying at nagaland and want to buy RIO so when are you going to send the consignment to the dealers.
  Posted by RAMESH SARAWGI at 5th October,2010
  Posted by umesh verma at 28th September,2010
sir , i want bye rio suv. i m staying mumbai, how its posibal
  Posted by ashish at 25th August,2010
who is the dealer for rio in madhya pradesh,and what is the on road prices in madhya pradesh for rio.
  Posted by Vidit Tiwari at 21st August,2010
is there any dealer in lucknow ??
  Posted by Prakash Sharma at 14th August,2010
No dealer or agency in JAIPUR or any place in RAJASTHAN, this state has good potential for Low cost quality SUV.
  Posted by rajinder singh grewal at 7th August,2010
u must open ur showrooms in district level cities...then it will give u a good result...
  Posted by anne.s.kishore at 23rd July,2010
hi,we are in hospet.bellary dt.karnataka.we want to book the car now. can yougive the details of the nearest showroom.if it is possible book the car phone 9481559999.
  Posted by nagaraj at 21st June,2010
welcome to premier auto old is gold infrom me to s u v lanchinging date
  Posted by arjun remesh at 10th June,2010
itz gud to hear that premier is back with a new model i like the s u v need to go for a test ride
  Posted by suryanarayana kona at 5th June,2010
who is the dealer in chennai
  Posted by K S Yadav at 23rd May,2010
Amazing looks and soothing design. Driver's seat give better road command than most of the SUVs. A better engine with optional auto transmission will see this beautiful mini SUV on road in large numbers. Once volume start driving economic viability, it will beat the road. The catch is initial pricing of improved versions.
  Posted by joby j v at 21st May,2010
road traffic in allover india is increasing hope the high end variant will have auto transmission to ease on the road its seem to be perfect size and an affordable suv wish u all the best
  Posted by Dr. Balu Sharma at 11th March,2010
Please mail me dealer address at Guwahati
  Posted by Sunil John at 10th March,2010
Top model should be with a price tag of Rs. 6,00,000/- and low model with one lac less on road Delhi. Then it can hit the road amazingly.
  Posted by rishisharaan at 12th February,2010
who is the delear in chennai
  Posted by priyank at 5th February,2010
who is the dealer in mumbai
  Posted by mohit at 2nd January,2010
when is rio launching in mumbai...???
  Posted by lav kumar matlapudi at 1st January,2010
we are glat to here lanching RIO and new arrivel please send me the phots and prices.
  Posted by mehul h k at 8th November,2009
COngrates Premier Auto, Fiat fans Visit
  Posted by Rocks at 30th October,2009
Good to see a SUV in that price bracket, though this SUV is not having a SUV features, but at this price a nice shape to have. Good Going Premier.
  Posted by Gopakumar at 29th October,2009
Great to see an SUV in this segment and many will be looking for something like this.
  Posted by BS .GARSA at 29th October,2009
It the stuff I was looking for .But being china colobration , its quality will be a big quastion mark?
  Posted by narinder at 28th October,2009
please tell me when will this suv avialable in punjab
  Posted by RAVI CHURIWAL at 28th October,2009
  Posted by dishanta choudhury at 28th October,2009
what is the procedure to open a dealership in guwahati assam
  Posted by CH. SRINIVASA RAO at 12th October,2009
i am happy to see this article and i would like to take the Agency/Franchisee in andhra pradesh in india. Can you ask your concerns to contact me HAVING EXPERIENCE IN 20 YEARS IN MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES. CH. SRINIVASA RAO M.B.A., VISAKHAPATNAM - 530007 009966379125
  Posted by viswamnair at 11th October,2009
Oh!My!The motor is no motor!!
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