Maruti to enter LCV segment

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), the country’s largest car maker, said on Saturday it would foray into the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment over the next two years to take on the category leader, the Tata Ace.

The LCV will be developed on the platform of parent Suzuki Motor Corporation’s (SMC) Carry, a vehicle sold in China, Indonesia and Pakistan.

R C Bhargava, chairman of MSIL, said: "It was planned in our original agreement (with SMC) in 1982 that the Carry LCV would be launched in India but at that time, due to poor response from the market, it was shelved. The situation has changed and the board has given us an in-principle approval to go ahead with the project.”

In 1983, when the then Maruti Udyog Ltd set up shop in India, it had opened countrywide bookings for its M800 model and the Carry LCV. While the M800 received 121,000 bookings, the Carry had only about 2,000. Thereafter, the company decided to drop the plan for launching the LCV.

Maruti hasn’t decided on the name of the proposed product but said it would be available in both diesel and CNG (compressed natural gas) variants. "Our engineers are working on adapting the diesel engine we have licensed from Fiat to be used in the LCV. This will be a pure goods carrier," added Bhargava.

The diesel engine for the LCV would be produced locally. The company has not finalised a distribution strategy. Mayank Pareek, chief operating officer (marketing & sales), said: “In China, Indonesia and Pakistan, Suzuki has both mixed and exclusive showrooms for the Carry."

The plan to enter the LCV segment is an initiative to diversify the product portfolio to reduce risk in the business, considering the slowdown witnessed in the passenger car market, said Bhargava.