New Delhi: Maruti Udyog (MUL) has launched the sports utility vehicle (SUV) Grand Vitara XL-7 in the Indian market.
The SUV has a 2700cc engine and comes priced at Rs 15.96 lakh for the standard version and Rs 16.77 lakh for the limited edition variant (both prices ex-showroom, Delhi).
Company officials say the Grand Vitara is being imported in the completely built unit form from its parent company, Japan-based Suzuki Motor Corporation, in limited numbers.
MUL managing director Jagdish Khattar says 2003-04 will be better than 2002-03 for MUL in terms of profits despite a cut in the price of its largest selling model. However, he gave no details about earnings and annual sales of the company that is due for an initial public offering by the middle of this year. The government plans to sell 25 per cent of equity.
He says the company is focusing on improving its overall marketshare though he declined to specify any sales targets. Last year, Maruti's sales remained flat at 2.75 lakh units while the domestic car industry grew by 6.4 per cent to 5.41 lakh units.
Maruti, 45.54 per cent held by the government and 54.2 per cent by its Japanese parent, posted a net profit of Rs 1,045 crore ($221 million) in the year to March 2002 on a revenue of Rs 9,410.3 crore.
According to Khattar the initial response for the Vitara product had been "overwhelming," which prompted the company to import 50 units of the vehicle from Suzuki. "The market for SUVs is in its infancy in India. Globally Suzuki sold more than 135,000 Vitaras last year, nearly 30,000 in the US, the world's biggest market for SUVs."
The Vitara will compete with General Motors' Forester, Mitsubishi's Pajero and the soon-to-be-launched Terracan from the Hyundai stable.