Maruti Suzuki India today said it would launch a new van within this fiscal year to replace its aging multi-purpose vehicle Versa, which in any case was never one of its popular models.
"We will be launching a new van by the end of this fiscal. This vehicle will replace the Versa, whose production has already been stopped," Maruti Suzuki India managing executive officer (engineering) I V Rao told reporters on the sidelines of the fourth environmentally friendly vehicle conference in New Delhi.
Rao said that Maruti has discontinued production of the Versa multipurpose vehicle because of low demand. "The numbers were very low as it is for Versa and we were making the car only on demand," he said. "Now we have completely stopped production for the model."
He, however, did not give a precise timeframe for introducing the replacement model, nor did he indicate the price point at which it would be sold.
Rao also said Maruti Suzuki would consider in January making fresh investments at its manufacturing plants. "Our next board meeting is still two months away," he said. "We are internally discussing fresh investment proposals, but a final decision will be taken at the board meeting (in January)."
Rao declined to elaborate on the planned investment, but India's largest car maker by sales had said previously it may raise manufacturing capacity to meet rising demand for its hatchbacks and sedans. Maruti's factories are located at Gurgaon and Manesar in Haryana.
The company wants to increase capacity as rising incomes, easier loan rates and the introduction of new models such as the Estilo and Ritz have lifted local demand. Exports are also showing a rising trend because of increasing global demand for fuel-efficient small cars.
Sale of Maruti cars grew 25 per cent during April-October 2009 to 558,332 vehicles. Local sales grew 16 per cent to 478,049 vehicles, while exports more than doubled to 80,283 vehicles from 35,599 a year earlier.
Rao said Maruti was likely to touch the one million unit annual car production mark by March. "Hopefully, we will have one million units in production by the end of this financial year by utilising our full capacity," he said.
He added the company is making all its models Bharat Stage-IV compliant as required under the government emission norms. "We have not completed BS-IV compliance norms on all our models but we are working towards that," he said.
The company is also working on hybrid and electric vehicles for demo cars, but Rao said it has no plans for a full-fledged launch of vehicles with such alternative fuel technologies.