Maruti Baleno drives into premium segment, wants to push rivals off the road

The Baleno — to hit roads on October 26 — will take on the likes of Honda Jazz, Volkswagen Polo and Hyundai Elite i20.

Written by Sharmistha Mukherjee | Jaipur | Updated: October 15, 2015 7:07 am
The Baleno will hit Indian roads on October 26. Express Photo The Baleno will hit Indian roads on October 26. Express Photo

The country’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) is gearing up to launch an all new hatchback Baleno later this month to expand and grow its presence in the premium car segment.

The Baleno — to hit roads on October 26 — will take on the likes of Honda Jazz, Volkswagen Polo and Hyundai Elite i20. RS Kalsi, executive director (marketing and sales), MSIL said: “We have been defining categories and taking leadership positions in those categories whether it was hatchback Swift, entry-level sedan DZire or utility vehicle Ertiga. We want to assume the leadership position in the premium hatchback segment as well.”

The premium hatchback category, which has been clocking growth of over 22 per cent in the first half of this fiscal, has seen strong industry from automobile manufacturers in the last few months. Currently, it comprises a fifth of the total sales in the passenger vehicles market. According to industry estimates, 5,00,000-5,25,000 cars in the premium compact category are sold every year.

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The company has not revealed any prices, but it is expected to be priced between Rs 5.3-8 lakh. Bookings for the car across Maruti Suzuki’s NEXA chain of dealerships opened Tuesday. Kalsi declined to specify a sales target for the upcoming model but said that the company’s production facilities are fully geared to meet “whatever demand comes from the market”.

The premium hatchback will be the second model to be sold through the NEXA sales outlets. Maruti S-Cross, launched in August this year, is already available through NEXA. Kalsi informed the company will be leveraging on the synergies between NEXA and the existing chain of dealerships to retail the Baleno.

“By the end of this month, we will have 80 NEXA showrooms. These dealers have an average of three normal showrooms each. So, in a way, we have a synergy of around 320 outlets as far as the catchment area is concerned”, said Kalsi.

Baleno would debut in five different trims, including an automatic based on the fuel-efficient, continuous variable transmission technology. The car will come strapped with Maruti Suzuki’s 1.2 litre petrol and 1.3 litre diesel engines, delivering fuel efficiency of 21.4 kmpl and 27.39 kmpl, respectively.

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