Pune: India’s largest car maker, Maruti Udyog Ltd, is seeking to revive the flagging fortunes of its multi-purpose van Versa, one of its slower selling models, by introducing more fuel- efficient options.
A person close to the development who did not want to be identified said an engineering team at Maruti is in advanced stages of getting the vehicle running on options such as compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to bring down the cost of ownership and compete better with rival carriers that run on diesel.
“The Versa might also eventually make an appearance in other forms for applications, such as ambulance, but that is only after we present it in the market with other fuel options,” this person said.
The Versa is the Indian version of the now-discontinued Suzuki Every / Carry. It currently runs on a 1298cc, four-cylinder petrol engine. Maruti officials declined to comment saying the company doesn’t discuss future product launches.
This is the third time that the company is looking to jump-start sales of the Versa, which was launched in 2001 with actors Amitabh Bachchan and son Abhishek Bachchan as brand ambassadors.
It was launched as the country’s first luxury van with features such as twin air conditioners and sold for around Rs6 lakh for the high-end model. The company reduced the price in 2003 and later in 2004, when it relaunched the car with a Rs4 lakh price tag.
According to another person familiar with the situation, Maruti sells just about 50-60 units of the vehicle every month and is primarily bought by those looking for a spacious family car.
Maruti has used cheaper fuel options to boost sales for models such as the Omni van, whose sales perked up when it came out with LPG and CNG versions.
At Rs1.90 lakh, the Omni LPG Cargo is the cheapest commercial goods carrier in the market today.
Maruti sold an estimated 27,000 vehicles in the four months since April, up from 23,000 units in the year-ago period.