Amid dwindling sales of entry cars, Maruti upgrades old warhorse Alto

NEW DELHI: At a time when the entry car market is under pressure, Maruti Suzuki upgraded its warhorse, the Alto, and re-introduced a 1,000cc version of the vehicle that once was the largest seller in the country after emerging a successor to the Maruti800.
The Alto (which also comes with an 800cc engine) and cars of its ilk have been under pressure over the past few years as cost escalations on the vehicles due to statutory requirements on emissions and safety have made them expensive, even while incomes of entry-level buyers have not moved up at the same pace.
Also, many buyers have been shifting to higher – and more stylised – vehicles for better design and performance, even opting to buy second-hand vehicles than buying the new entry cars.
Maruti is hoping that with the new design and a relatively-powerful 1,000cc engine – which used to be on the Alto till 2019-20 but was discontinued after the entry of the S-Presso – the car will see customer numbers go up. It has priced the new Alto from Rs 4 lakh onwards (ex-showroom).

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“It is a very important segment for us… and we strongly feel that demand for affordable cars will always be there. The only concern here is that affordability of the vehicles has been hit due to statutory regulations, higher commodity prices, and rising road and registration taxes,” Shashank Srivastava, Director (Sales & Marketing) at Maruti Suzuki, told TOI.
And while Maruti holds on to the segment, the entry hatch segment has seen models moving out due to low demand, and these include Hyundai’s Eon and Santro, and Tata’s Nano. Even the Renault Kwid has seen massive pressure on its numbers.
Srivastava conceded that Alto’s numbers have been under pressure, but said that the influx of first-time buyers in the car market means that the volumes can come up with a new design and better engine.
He said that inflation and higher interest rates are putting pressure on the category. “But we feel that as the economy picks up, the demand will come back. Also, the focus on personal mobility post the Covid waves means that cars such as the Alto will get good traction.”