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Old 13th March 2016, 17:08   #1
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Default Is Maruti's announcement of Optional ABS & Airbags just on paper?

Over the period of the last 3-4 months, Maruti had announced the availability of ABS and Airbags as an option across all variants of all its entry level cars. These included the Alto, Alto K 10, Wagon R, Celerio, Swift and the Swift Dzire. This move was welcomed by all and Maruti was appreciated for taking this step. One key question that came up (and can be seen in various posts across the threads related to these announcements) was- "Why make it Optional?", It was a Rs 9000-35000 cost addition depending on the model, why not make it standard? The consensus was that the (O) variant should be the default one a customer goes for and if he/she does not, it is his/her problem and not that of the companies. Fair Statement

Now, 3 months since this announcement, the (O) variants of these cars seem to be like the Himalayan Yeti or the Loch Ness monster. Everyone thinks it exists, but no one seems to have really seen it or have been able to buy it. This seems especially true on the entry level cars. I have noticed several posts from members across threads where they have mentioned reasons like dealers not having clue about such variants or quoting absurdly long waiting times.

Today there was a bunch of posts in the Wagon R AMT thread (quoted below), which pointed to the same thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ansumaan View Post
I have got the same response from 2 dealers. This may be a marketing gimmick from Maruti. I hope they are not trying to cook-up some stats that Indian buyer don't prefer safety options even if they are available. That statistics may be used when govt will make ABS & airbags mandatory.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NPV View Post
According to 3 different Maruti dealerships I've been speaking to regarding purchase of a Wagon R, they haven't sold a single one with the (O) pack with Dual airbags and ABS. They attribute this to long wait times almost 4 months+ which puts off the potential buyer who then settles for a variant without the airbags and ABS. They say same is the case with Alto 800 and K10 as well! The other perspective is that there are hardly any customers who are particular about buying the variants with (O) pack.
The announcement of the (O) pack by Maruti was done way back in November 2015
Quote:
Originally Posted by adneeraj View Post
I had a similar experience when thinking of exchanging my Swift for either a wagonR or a Celerio.
I was particular to ask for the option pack but the sales guy at the dealership was very cranky when I pressed for it. He told me there would be a minimum waiting period of 1 months..
I was anyway put off by the size of the vehicle and felt shortchanged with what was offered for 6.15 lacs on road (not counting the discount). But here comes the shocker.. He offered me another 15k on my Swift only if I settled for either the wagonR vxi or the Celerio zxi non option variant which was readily available in stock. Also, the option pack variant had lesser discounts than the regular one. Why such tactics? Why deter someone wanting to buy their cars with the safety features! They're just making a joke of what the company is offering
Decided to test out this hypothesis and visited a Maruti Showroom nearby and enquired about the Wagon R. The SA's immediate response was that the (O) variants have long waiting times. On asking how much, he said it can be 3 months and can even go up to 6 months. . He goes on to say Airbags and ABS are not needed in the City (Which is a standard Salesman talk). I pointed to the Outer Ring Road outside where vehicles were zooming by (being a Sunday) and asked him, Isn't this a City and aren't all those vehicles going fast. To that he had a gem of an answer. Airbags and ABS are not going to save your life, your life depends on your luck.

Anyway, the point is that he actively discouraged me from looking at the (O) variant by quoting unrealistic wait times (Note: This was for the Wagon R) and giving his funda on ABS and Airbags. The regular VXi variant was available within a month.

I don't see any reason why a dealer should so strongly discourage customers from the (O) variants with the safety features. The only reason I can think of is that supplies of the (O) variant are limited or non existent. Could there be any other reason?

Which brings me back to the title. Is this more of a marketing goodwill thing as opposed to real interest to provide the safety features? Of course, one argument is that the examples above could be one off things. But the instances within the forum itself seems to be to many for it to be just a coincidence.

Last edited by Aditya : 15th March 2016 at 08:11. Reason: As requested
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Old 13th March 2016, 17:33   #2
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Default re: Is Maruti's announcement of Optional ABS & Airbags just on paper?

I think this practice is not new. In 2011, when I wanted to book Dzire ZDI, they tried hard to push me for the VDI model which doesn't have ABS/Air Bag. They even told me that ZDI has 3-6months waiting period(almost all dealers in bangalore) and VDI has less than a month of waiting period. But I insisted on ZDI and got the delivery within 2 months.

So, if the buyer pushes for (O) version then the dealers will be forced to oblige.

If they refuse to take booking then that's a different story.
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Old 13th March 2016, 18:04   #3
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Default re: Is Maruti's announcement of Optional ABS & Airbags just on paper?

Maruti seems to be testing the waters and trying to see if there is a real demand for ABS & dual airbags good enough to offer them as standard fitment (IMHO!). We bought Celerio ZXI AMT(O) recently (booked on 19.12.15 & delivered on 19.02.16). We had to make a hue and cry sending emails to MSIL about delivery delays, calling different people (MSIL Marketing /Sales hierarchy, dealer management etc) and only then the car was finally delivered on Feb 19,2016. All the while, the dealer kept giving us some or the other reason for delivery delays(they even tried to convince us to take a single airbag variant but we didn't budge!!). I hope this demand for dual airbags and ABS is tangible enough in India now for the companies to offer them without any fuss!!
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Old 13th March 2016, 18:20   #4
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Default re: Is Maruti's announcement of Optional ABS & Airbags just on paper?

Same story here too. When we enquired about the Swift Dzire Zxi (over the phone, didn't visit the dealer), we were instead pushed for the Vxi variant instead of Zxi, despite Zxi being pricier than Vxi (and probably more margins for the dealer and Maruti both). Standard response from them: "Sir, Why do you want to spend more money when you get all features on the Vxi". Didn't want to take it forward and looked elsewhere (read: Honda )

Last edited by TD_GHY : 13th March 2016 at 18:22. Reason: Spelling correction
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Old 13th March 2016, 18:33   #5
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Default re: Is Maruti's announcement of Optional ABS & Airbags just on paper?

So, all in all, looks like it was a marketing gimmick to silence the critics of safety of their cars. If they continue these tactics, this has to be taken up with different consumer fora. They will get some sense only when threatened with a kick in the pants of legal action.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
Decided to test out this hypothesis and visited a Maruti Showroom nearby and enquired about the Wagon R. The SA's immediate response was that the (O) variants have long waiting times. On asking how much, he said it can be 3 months and can even go up to 6 months. . He goes on to say Airbags and ABS are not needed in the City (Which is a standard Salesman talk). I pointed to the Outer Ring Road outside where vehicles were zooming by (being a Sunday) and asked him, Isn't this a City and aren't all those vehicles going fast. To that he had a gem of an answer. Airbags and ABS are not going to save your life, your life depends on your luck.

Which brings me back to the title. Is this more of a marketing goodwill thing as opposed to real interest to provide the safety features? Of course, one argument is that the examples above could be one off things. But the instances within the forum itself seems to be to many for it to be just a coincidence.
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Old 13th March 2016, 18:34   #6
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Default re: Is Maruti's announcement of Optional ABS & Airbags just on paper?

Good thread Rajeevraj!

I had a similar experience, but before the (O) variants were announced. I had booked Celerio AMT ZXi variant with single airbag. But even after 8 weeks of wait the dealer was not giving any guarantee for delivery dates. They were trying to push the VXi variant saying that it is available readily in stock and you do not require airbags (there was no ABS in the AMT Zxi variant then) in the city etc. I then cancelled the booking and got a Polo GT TSi.

It is sad to see that Maruti is not giving priority to (O) variants. I think this is because majority of the people still do not opt for these features. There is still a long way to go before majority of the buyers become aware of these features as necessity and start demanding these variants. Only then the lead times on these variants will come down, or Maruti will make these features standard.
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Old 13th March 2016, 19:17   #7
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Default re: Is Maruti's announcement of Optional ABS & Airbags just on paper?

I guess people are still not opting for safety features even with just 9k additional price in entry level segment. So maruti has kept the production of optional variants low. Another possibility is Maruti wanted to be in news for providing "safety pack" across all models and variants.
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Old 13th March 2016, 19:41   #8
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Default

I had the same experience. When KUV100 was launched I wanted to see if I can get mid variant with airbag and abs.

For the Swift option pack, I called couple of Maruti dealers in chennai and all of them said that there is no such model available. I said this comes as optional in all variants and they were like is it for real? Then they said it will take six months as they never heard about that officially from Maruti. All this happened in the month of January.

I then booked the KUV100 k4+ variant and am fully satisfied now.

Last edited by GTO : 14th March 2016 at 11:51. Reason: Typo corrected
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Old 13th March 2016, 21:19   #9
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Default Is Maruti's announcement of Optional ABS and Airbags across cars and variants...

We are forgetting a very crucial aspect in this discussion - dealer's inventory. And this is directly linked to the kind of market demand they receive. I am sure we will agree that majority of the population still prefer to save the additional "price" and go for a regular variant. As such, it is natural for dealers to stock more of the regular non optional models. People like us concerned about safety are sadly very less in number, not significant enough for most dealers to keep such vehicles in ready stock, unless forcefully billed by the manufacturer or linked to targets. It just makes more business sense for them not to block capital in standing inventory.
Harsh but sad truth. However i am sure any manufacturing company will never kill its own products like this by intentionally thwarting demand.

End of the day a dealership is a standalone business entity of individual businessmen, and not owned by MSIL.

PS:- AFAIK, the Alto and K10 only have a driver airbag as optional. No abs or passenger airbag. However the rest of the models above them do.

Last edited by Motormania : 13th March 2016 at 21:21.
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Old 13th March 2016, 22:18   #10
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Default re: Is Maruti's announcement of Optional ABS & Airbags just on paper?

In Pune, I have been pleasantly surprised to see 2 newish (going by the registration) Wagon R Vxi ABS in the last 2 weeks.

Its for the consumer to push for a car with safety features, with more demand auto companies will be more than happy to hike to production.
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Old 13th March 2016, 23:42   #11
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Default re: Is Maruti's announcement of Optional ABS & Airbags just on paper?

Even when there was ABS option on the price list for the first generation Swift, the waiting periods for ABS equipped vehicles were double that of the non - ABS variants.

So the "ABS / Airbag available across the range" announcement was probably just a publicity stunt.

Maruti unsuccessfully tried hard to whether the Polo / Figo NCAP publicity exercise. That test brought out an "Airbag is everything" perception with a major section of the car buying public. Many (even on Team BHP) forgot that airbags were only supplementary features to seat-belts and a crashworthy structure. Whatever Maruti tried was undone by Mr. Bhargava's somewhat nonsensical comments on accidents and in- car deaths (!).

In all probability, Maruti simply might have decided to make an announcement, knowing very well that an such an announcement would simply do away with the negative publicity, and help combating the competition offering something Maruti did not. Just as Maruti would have calculated, Volkswagen went up in smoke, Figo is a dud, Brio/ Jazz are nowhere near to becoming a threat, and Toyota is at best a marginal player with the Etios/ Liva duo.

Maruti is No. 1 not for nothing, people. They know how to manage the market and deal with everything that comes in their way.

And although I do not endorse it, I have to say that this is a gem indeed:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
Airbags and ABS are not going to save your life, your life depends on your luck.

Last edited by Yeldo : 13th March 2016 at 23:47.
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Old 14th March 2016, 08:51   #12
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Default re: Is Maruti's announcement of Optional ABS & Airbags just on paper?

It is quite simple. MSIL's job was to make safety features (ABS and Airbags) available across more models and variants - which they have done. And I think they have given it enough publicity as well.

The dealer's (rather, sales advisor's) job is to sell as many cars as possible to meet his monthly target. Would they be more interested in selling the cars which they have in their stock-yard (for which they have already paid MSIL in full)? Or would they be happier to order another car for a customer and invest even more money while their lot is still full? Of course, it is unethical on the part of the dealer to push for variants without safety features. But which dealer (of not just MSIL, be it of any other car company) will not try to clear their dead stock?

When I used to work at MSIL, I have seen Estilo VXi and Wagon R VXi ABS units gathering dust on the assembly line for months, because no one ordered those variants. Of course, the company is going to produce cars only based on demand. They cannot shove it down customer's throats! MSIL may be No.1 in the market, but that does not mean they are not up against cut-throat competition.

Only two things can help in this situation:
(1) MSIL spends time and effort to educate its dealers and customers on the advantages of these safety features. I wish they did this.
(2) The Government makes at least ABS and dual Airbags mandatory.

By the way, right now, even if MSIL wanted to offer all their models / variants with standard airbags and ABS, there is no way their suppliers can meet the volumes. I know this for a fact.

What is probably going to happen is, the suppliers are probably ramping up their capacities right now, so that when these features become mandatory in the next year or two, they don't have supply issues.

Till then, whoever is really bothered about driving around in a relatively safe car, should be ready to wait for a few months to get a car of your choice in your favourite colour and with basic safety features. Else, work harder and get a top-end variant for which the dealer cannot ask you to wait for six months.
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Old 14th March 2016, 10:59   #13
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Default re: Is Maruti's announcement of Optional ABS & Airbags just on paper?

I, for one, have to disagree with the original post. Because I have booked a VXI(O) AMT WagonR on 20-Feb and done the PDI for it on 12-Mar (@Bimal Auto, Bangalore). It should be delivered to me sometimes this week.

During my initial interaction, I told that I was interested in WagonR AMT and willing to consider Celerio. No one tried to divert me to other cars. They tried to divert me to other colors (blue, grey instead of my choice silver) as they were immediately available. I did not inquire about Alto and other cars. However, the pricing for the ones with optional safety pack were available in their price list.

Regards,
Prasad

Last edited by pnredkar : 14th March 2016 at 11:02. Reason: Typo
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Old 14th March 2016, 11:26   #14
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Default re: Is Maruti's announcement of Optional ABS & Airbags just on paper?

We had a similar experience yesterday on visiting Maruti showroom (Gem Motors) in Kondapur, Hyderabad. At first the sales staff mentioned booking the Celerio Zxi AMT option pack variant was not available or there are no dispatches from Maruti and the wait would be too long. They were encouraging us to go with the non-option pack variants instead. But we responded saying that we would not buy any car without ABS or Airbags and we started talking among ourselves about alternatives available with other brands. The sales staff member on realizing we were only interested in the zxi option pack variant made a phone call of sorts and got back to us saying he can take a booking but cannot promise a delivery date. It could be two months or more was his estimate.

We immediately made the booking with just 5K amount and headed out. So I suggest folks to put their foot down and go with the option pack variants. I am sure the sales staff here are just trying to push out non option pack variants as there are more dispatches of those. But Maruti won't dispatch more option pack variants unless bookings of the same increase. So we have a chicken and egg problem here. More customers ought to insist on booking the option pack variants.
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Old 14th March 2016, 18:14   #15
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Default Re: Is Maruti's announcement of Optional ABS & Airbags just on paper?

Please correct me if I'm wrong, ABS and Airbags are mandatory in cars from 2017 onwards. Until then we have to put our foot down and stop the sales people from diverting us. When the sales person says "ABS and Airbags are not required in city", it just really infuriates me. It is this Chalta Hai attitude that puts India on top in terms of road accidents per year.

On top of this, most people wear seatbelts only to satisfy the cops. One moment of complacency can lead to a lifetime of agony (if not for the driver, then for the family). Why can't people realize this?!
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