Mumbai: Car market leader Maruti Suzuki India Ltd will start selling the Ciaz sedan through its Nexa premium sales outlet network from 1 April. The move, said a company executive, has been prompted by the Ciaz having successfully entrenched itself in the premium sedan market and the Nexa’s wider reach.

Ciaz has emerged as the market leader in the premium mid-size sedan segment wit­hin about two and a half years of its launch in October 2014, R.S. Kalsi, executive officer (sales and marketing), said in an interview on Thursday.

“We thought it makes sense to blend a premium product with a great sales experience," he said.

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Kalsi pointed out that Maruti could not have sold the Ciaz through the Nexa channel earlier as the model was launched just a year before the premium showrooms opened.

The firm was then focused on expanding the Nexa network. It now has 250 outlets, which have sold 200,000 cars so far. In this fiscal year, sales by the outlets are projected to cross 150,000 units.

In the months from April to February, Maruti sold 59,530 units of the Ciaz, as against 51,713 City units sold by Honda Cars India Ltd, dislodging the latter as India’s largest-selling premium sedan, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam).

In a bid to tap buyers who are upgrading from Maruti’s small cars to premium cars and create a differentiated identity for itself, Maruti launched the Nexa outlets in July 2015.

The Ciaz will be the fifth model to be sold through Nexa. It currently sells the S-Cross (cross-over), Baleno and Baleno RS hatchbacks, and Ignis through Nexa.

With Ciaz joining the Nexa line-up, the contribution of the premium retail chain is expected to top 15% of total sales by end of 2017-18.

“Prima facie, it looks like Maruti’s differentiated branding strategy has worked. However, one doesn’t know whether the new channel is as cost efficient as the traditional mass one," said an analyst at a domestic brokerage, declining to be identified.

Some models selling through Nexa, like the Baleno, have done well, but it doesn’t really reflect on the channel’s efficiency, he said.

In order to tighten its hold on India’s car market, where it already sells every second car, Maruti plans to launch four new models in fiscal 2017-18. These would include two completely new models and two refreshes of existing models, said Kalsi.