Maruti Suzuki to phase out iconic 800 model

It would soon be the end of the road for Maruti 800 which launched Maruti Suzuki into the country's predominant car maker almost three decades ago. The iconic model is being phased out. A replacement to the model would be out by December, but it would have little in common with the original.

The new model would come with a price tag in Rs2.5-3.5 lakh range, and would feature the same F8D engine used in the base Alto but in a new updated avatar to take on the new generation engines offered by competitors.

''A replacement for the 800cc model makes sense as it hasn't been selling very aggressively at about 2,000 units a month. This will be a totally new small car, though based on an existing platform,'' a company official told Business Line.

He added the two Alto models would continue since they had strong volumes (around 20,000 units/month). The market leader would focus on fuel efficiency and low maintenance as the key considerations in the main purchase decision in the compact segment. However, the design would be sharp and reflect Maruti's new emphasis on styling according to another source, the report said.

At present, major players in the 800cc segment are Hyundai's new Eon and Maruti's own Alto. Tata Motors is also reportedly working on an 800cc  Nano, while others such as Nissan-Renault are also eyeing the segment.

According to an industry expert, with petrol prices on the rise and urban spaces getting crowded, the fuel-efficient compact car category was expected to show strong growth in the future.

The Maruti 800 had to be withdrawn from top 13 cities in India from September 2010, as it could not meet the Bharat Stage IV emissions norms, which were made mandatory in these cities from that date. The compact car had been updated several times following the first introduction on indian roads in 1983. It was based on the Suzuki Alto, a brand which was later introduced in India.