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Old 23rd September 2010, 14:28   #1
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Default Cheap AT hatchback with factory fitted LPG kit ?

I came across this thought based on my Dad's requirement. So, I thought I would put it up for discussion on this forum to see if it makes sense.

My father currently drives a humble Maruti 800. This is his first car, which was gifted to him by my elder brother when he started earning.

Even though my father didn't have to bear the cost of purchase, he was initially put-off by the relatively higher maintenance (especially fuel) cost of a car as compared to a 2-wheeler.

Because of this, my parents used the car very little and always used to crib about how fuel guzzling the car is (as compared to a 2-wheeler). I tried explaining to them that this is one of the most fuel efficient cars in the market and that the FE of a car should not be compared to that of a 2-wheeler.

Somehow I convinced them to install an aftermarket RTO approved LPG kit, once the car was out of warranty period. Even though it was an investment of roughly 20k at that time, it proved wise in the long run.

Even though the LPG kit uses the entire boot space, my parents are happy because of:
- Lower running cost compared to petrol
- Big LPG tank requiring less frequent refueling
- Dual fuel option (can travel long distances without needing refueling)

My Dad loves to drive himself, but is not so good with manual gears. I always find him over-revving the engine in low gears or lugging the engine in high gears. He also uses half-clutch a lot. I really wonder how the OEM clutch has lasted this long.

It is really ironical because I learnt driving from him and he correctly taught me the use of clutch and gears. He knows everything theoretically, but finds it tough to practice it himself while driving. I think this may be because he started driving the car very late in his life and is perhaps applying the Bajaj scooter driving style for driving the car too.

With this background, I put forward my business proposal.

My Dad is getting old now. In the near future, I would like to buy a new AT car for him for the reasons mentioned above.

The following are my (or my Dad's) requirements. I feel that these would be the typical requirements for a middle class senior citizen.

- No pre-owned cars. Buying a car is an emotional thing, hence pre-owned cars would not be considered.
- It must be a Maruti. When it comes to buying a car for my parents, I would not like to experiment with other brands. Even though I drive a Hyundai i10 myself, I have to admit that Maruti products have the lowest TCO with the highest reliability.
- It should be similar in size to Maruti 800, but slightly more powerful.
- It should be fuel efficient.
- It should come with factory fitted LPG kit.
- Last, but not the least, it should be AT.

If I see the cars available in the market today, no car satisfies the above requirements in totality. But there are 2 cars which come quite close.
- Alto K10
- A-Star AT

My dream car (for my Dad's requirements) would be a Maruti Alto with K10 engine, automatic transmission and factory fitted LPG kit. Icing on the cake would be rear defogger, washer and wiper, ABS and airbags. Is it too much to ask for ?

Does it make good business sense for Maruti to make this product for the Indian market ? I think, it does. The Indian customers have shown interest in AT as well as dual-fuel cars, but no manufacturer has though of combining both AT and duel-fuel in a single model. It is a perfect formula for instant success. With Maruti's brand name, service backup and proven reliability, such a product would be an instant hit, not just with the senior citizens, but even with first time car buyers, lady drivers and people looking for a second car for city use.

Your comments please.

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Old 23rd September 2010, 14:43   #2
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I guess we have had a similar discussion here:

I guess the torque output of LPG is quite low for automatics.
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