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Maruti concerned over Celerio diesel's slow sales

Maruti Suzuki had invested approximately Rs. 900 crores to develop the compact 2-cylinder diesel engine to power the Celerio (and other small cars). The company was very optimistic about this engine's potential in the country and was certain about a high demand for this oil burner. However, just months after its introduction, the top management have gone back to the conference room to re-look at their strategy to counter the poor sales performance of the Celerio diesel.

At the time of its introduction, company expected 20-30% of Celerio customers to opt for the diesel. However, the percentage seems much lower, with the petrol and the AMT versions still forming the majority chunk of the Celerio sales. Being Maruti's and even Suzuki's first attempt at a diesel engine, the response received from the market can be best termed as lukewarm. The motor wore the crown of being the most fuel-efficient diesel engine in the country, till the Ciaz SHVS came into the picture. It also offered decent pep for regular city commuting too.

So what could possibly be the reason for such a poor response then? A few reasons that immediately come to mind are its poor NVH and refinement levels, lack of top-end performance for highway sprints, the diminishing demand gap between petrol and diesel cars (with petrol cars making a comeback) and the high premium of Rs. 75,000 - 80,000 which this 2-cylinder commands over its petrol counterpart.

Contrary to the information that we've received, R.S.Kalsi (Director Marketing & Sales, Maruti Suzuki India) commended that the Celerio diesel sales seem better than expected and the company was ramping up production for the diesel unit (at the time of the Ciaz SHVS's launch). Maruti is also likely to add this motor to the best-selling car in the country - Alto 800, tuned to achieve 30 km/l (link to news article). If that happens, this motor might just see the volumes that that the company was hoping for.

 
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