Maruti Suzuki India Limited, country's top car maker has kick-started its small car exports to Europe with the despatch of its newly-launched three-cylinder A-star, the Suzuki world model series from India.
The first consignment of A-star for export left in a specially designed auto wagon railway rake from Gurgaon railway station. RK Rao, member (mechanical), Indian Railway Board and MM Singh, managing executive officer (production), Maruti Suzuki India Limited, flagged off the train for Mundra Port.
"The dispatch of first consignment of A-star from Gurgaon is a quantum leap for Maruti Suzuki towards company's future as a small car manufacturing hub for Suzuki, Japan. Majority of this export will comprise the newly launched A-Star for Europe,'' MM Singh said.
''The A-star cars will be sold under Suzuki Alto brand in Europe. Maruti Suzuki has invested into a new port and dedicated car handling facility at Mundra port in Gujarat. We have signed a long term agreement with MPSEZL (Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone Limited)," he added.
Earlier, Maruti Suzuki had announced a scale-up of export of its existing models to one lakh units. Simultaneously, Maruti Suzuki will export large volumes of A-star to European markets beginning 2009. Suzuki has chosen India as an exclusive base for manufacturing and export of A-star to all major European markets.
''Despatch of the first consignment of A-Star cars by Auto-Wagon Railway Rake is also a revolutionary event for country's automotive logistics and a step towards putting in place required infrastructure for large scale exports of automobiles from India,'' the company said in a release.
Until now, Maruti Suzuki has transported over 2 lakh cars by rail mode in NMG (New Modified Goods) rakes developed in-house by Indian Railways. In addition, the company has been extensively deploying road carriers for transportation of cars, it said.
''But to facilitate smooth export of this large volume of cars, a next generation automobile transport mechanism was needed that not only ensured increased safety, it also offered operational cost efficiencies, the factors that are critical to maintain cost competencies in export markets and succeed as an export hub,'' it added.
"We intend to use auto-wagon rakes for transportation of A-star and other models to Mundra port as well as other destinations for domestic market. Besides, smooth and cost effective logistics, we will also be contributing significantly to de-congestion of country's roads", said MM Singh.
The Indian Railways has developed two auto-wagon rakes, each consisting of 45 wagons. Each wagon is a double deck covered structure, built on container flat deck carriage and has a capacity of six compact cars. A railway rake, with 45 such bogies has a total capacity of 270 cars.
The two rakes will be available to all automobile manufacturers for transportation of cars.
The new state-of-the-art, light-weight A-star boasts of a powerful 998 cc K10B petrol engine that sets a new standard in fuel efficiency, at 19.59 kilometers per litre (as tested at ARAI, Pune).
Built on a brand new platform, the A-star is an ideal city car with the best in class turning radius, power delivery, flat torque (minimum gearshifts) characteristics and performance parameters. Additionally, the A-star is a truly green car that performs to the ELV norms, which makes it 85 per cent recyclable. Also, it is free from hazardous materials like lead, cadmium, mercury and chromium.
A-star is Maruti Suzuki's eighth vehicle in less than 40 months. It is positioned in the premium A2 segment where Maruti Suzuki holds a whopping 55 per cent market share.
The company also has a contract to manufacture around 50,000 units of the new model for Nissan, which will be branded with a different name in the overseas markets. For the domestic market, the company hopes to sell around 50,000 units of the A-Star.