Zen Classic, an upgraded version of Maruti's Zen, will be in the market in September 1999. That will be followed up with the launch of the Baleno "luxury" car and the Wagon-R compact.
The new Zen version, which will have cosmetic changes, is projected as the final variant in the Zen range. The car will have a new lighting system and a new front to give it a "classic" look. The price is yet to be fixed. The Zen range now comprises the basic standard model, the Zen LX and the Zen VX. The Zen Classic will complete the range.
The new model is expected to garner additional market for the company in the compact car segment. The Zen is already a market leader in this segment, which has Telco, Hyundai, Daewoo, and Fiat jostling for market share. Click here to see comparative table of cars in this segment.
The much-awaited 1,600-cc Baleno "luxury" car and the 1,000-cc Wagon-R compact are expected to be launched later this year and early 2000. Maruti Udyog has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government for import of components worth over Rs 500 crore for the manufacture of these cars.
Initially Maruti will import semi-knocked down kits of the Baleno from Suzuki, Japan, and assemble them at its new third plant at Gurgaon near New Delhi. The indigenous content will be 30 to 40 per cent. Suzuki has three versions abroad, a three-box saloon, a hatchback, and a station wagon. The company plans to introduce at least two of these in India.
The new plant has been adapted to produce Baleno along with the Zen, Esteem and Maruti 800 vehicles. However, Baleno will have a different welding shop to cater to its large size. Maruti Udyog expects to position the car along with the Honda City and the Mitsubishi Lancer, with a price tag between Rs 7 and Rs 8 lakh.
Apart from its 1,600-cc all-aluminium petrol engine, the Baleno has a multi-point fuel injection system.
The company also plans to introduce Suzuki's Alto in May 2000. The Alto will be sold in two variants -- an 800-cc standard model and a 1,000-cc model in the mid-size segment.