Premier drives back into passenger car segment with ‘Rio’

Premier drives back into passenger car segment with ‘Rio’

Mumbai: Premier Ltd, formerly Premier Automobiles Ltd, on Wednesday re-entered into the passenger car segment with the launch of a compact sport utility vehicle.

The vehicle, Rio, is priced between Rs5.25 lakh and Rs5.95 lakh, ex-showroom.

“We will be targeting fun-loving small families for their multi-purpose use with Rio. It is placed between the mid-sized passenger car and larger utility vehicles," Premier Ltd chairman and managing director Maitreya Doshi said here after launching the vehicle.

Premier has inked a five-year component and kit supply agreement with Chinese car maker Zotye Group, which entered into the field in 2005, to assemble Rios in its Pune facility.

Premier’s own BS-III certified 1489cc turbo diesel engine based on French firm Peugeot technology would be fitted with the vehicle, making the percentage of localisation at around 25%.

Doshi said that the agreement also entails Premier to get the latest version of the vehicle as and when it comes out from Zoyte Group’s stable.

Founded by visionary industrialist Walchand Hirachand in 1944, Premier Automobiles Ltd rolled out its first car in 1948 from the Kurla factory near Mumbai in collaboration with Germany’s Chrysler Corporation.

Subsequently, in a partnership with Italy’s Fiat, it had launched ‘Premier Padmini’ in the 1950s and entered into the MPV and LCV markets earlier in the current decade. One model each from both the segments are there in the market for which Premier has tied up with a Taiwanese firm. Localisation in these two models would be around 70%.

Doshi said that the company assembles 150-200 MPV and LCV vehicles a month now and plans to increase it to 500-600 vehicles in the next few months.

“We have invested around Rs100 crore to put up the necessary arrangements in the Pune facility for assembling Rio and will infuse additional capital when required," he said.

Claiming that the company was a financially sound one, Doshi said that Premier was considering to ‘monetise’ its 216 acres of industrial land at Kalyan, near Mumbai, to fund the future expansion in the facility.

“The land could fetch the company anything between Rs400-500 crore," he said.

So far, in the current decade, Premier has spent Rs200 crore for expansion and modernisation of the Pune plant.

Premier plans to produce 500 Rios each month until March next year and depending upon the feedback, it would scale up the production on a later date.

Rio would be available in three variants and in five colours. The company has 30 dealers now and would take the number to 75 by January and to 100 by April.