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Outbound: Maruti's 800


The sun may be slowly setting on Maruti Suzuki India’s once flagship M800 model in the domestic market, but the car is springing a surprise with rising exports this financial year.

By the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers’ data, exports of the M800 jumped by a massive 91.49 per cent to 4,435 units in the April-August period, as against 2,316 in the same period last year.

The company exports the M800 to neighbouring countries and other nations like Algeria, Chile and Egypt. In August, M800 exports stood at 1,075 units, as against 236 units in the same month of the previous year, up by a whopping 355.5 per cent.

This is in contrast to the gradually declining domestic sales. In the April-August period, M800 sales stood at 10,505 units as against 12,649 units in the year-ago period, down 16.94 per cent.

In August, M800 domestic sales were down by 29.8 per cent to 1,919 units, compared to 2,734 in the same month last year.

The company had phased out the model in 13 Indian cities from April this year, following the implementation of strict Bharat Stage IV emission norms.

Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) did not upgrade the car to meet the stringent norms enforced in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad, among other cities, despite the rise in exports, as the practical management did not see it as a sound business proposition.

“The (export) numbers are too small and I won’t attach any significance to it,” MSI Chairman R C Bhargava said.

At the time of phasing out of the car from the 13 cities, he had refused to be carried away by emotion. “Lots of nostalgic value is attached with the car (M800)... But we can’t allow sentiments to dictate business. We have not upgraded it to Bharat Stage IV norms as we do not consider it a good business proposition,” he had said.

In 26 years, the M800 has so far clocked total sales of 2.8 million units, of which 2.5 million units were in the domestic market and the rest were exported.

In its first year of commercial operations (December- March 1983), Maruti had produced 840 cars, but this financial year, the M800 had lost ground to more modern peers and on average, was clocking sales of about 2,000 units a month in the domestic market.