NEW DELHI -- Maruti Suzuki India, the country's largest passenger carmaker, is to launch an all-new version of the Dzire on May 16, an entry level compact sedan that has sold 1.38 million units since it first appeared in early 2008 as the Swift Dzire.
The old model started at 550,000 rupees ($8,500), and the new price is unannounced but not expected to be much changed. The Dzire has half the market share in its category (under four meters), and competes against the Ford Aspire, the Honda Amaze, the Hyundai Xcent, and the Tigor from Tata Motors.
Japan's Suzuki Motor owns 56% of Maruti Suzuki, and the Dzire is built on its fifth-generation Heartect platform designed for lightness, strength, and fuel efficiency. There are 1.2 liter gasoline or 1.3 liter diesel engine options.
According to R.S. Kalsi, Maruti Suzuki's executive director for marketing and sales, the company sold 190,000 Dzire units last year to capture half the market segment. The rest is shared between 17 other manufacturers.
At present, 44% of Dzire buyers are under 35. "In order to stay relevant, we have to anticipate the taste of these customers [and the] features and styling that they are looking for," said Kalsi. Older models were generally given cosmetic upgrades every two years.
With the car also expected to be marketed in Nepal and Sri Lanka, Maruti Suzuki expects increased sales in the coming year. The car is being built at Maruti Suzuki's plant in Manesar in the northern state of Haryana, and is compliant with frontal offset, side impact, and pedestrian safety standards that will begin kicking in from October. Bookings open in early May.