2014 was an overall mixed bag for the Indian auto industry, as excise duty was cut as were fuel prices, yet car sales did not live up to expectations during the festive season. The forecast for 2015 starts on a bleak note with manufacturers fearing an increase in excise duty, which in turn will push up car prices. Further, prices could increase on the note of safety if the government indeed mandates airbags, ABS or even increased protection at higher speeds.
However, India's largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki, has its targets set on achieving 50 percent market share, and to do that, the company acknowledges that it will need to enter new segments. 2015 will see Maruti enter at least four new segments, while refreshes and variant additions for existing models will follow suit.
Here's a list of what 2015 looks like for Maruti-Suzuki.
1. Maruti SX4 S-Cross:
The SX4 S-Cross is Maruti's answer to the Renault Duster, Nissan Terrano and Mahindra Scorpio. This 4.3 meter long crossover has been testing in India since mid-2014 and its market launch is planned for early next year. The S-Cross will come with petrol and diesel engines, though its unknown if Maruti will offer the AWD version of it.
The S-Cross essentially sets the ball rolling for Maruti in the compact SUV/crossover space. 2016 will see the launch of a smaller SUV in the YBA (codename).
2. Maruti Y9T LCV:
Another new segment Maruti will explore is the LCV space, and to do that, the Y9T (codename) will be launched early next year to compete with the likes of the Tata Ace and Mahindra Maxximo. The Y9T is important even from a passenger car angle as it is supposed to debut the all-new 0.8-liter twin-cylinder diesel engine, which will be an integral part of future small cars.
3. Maruti Dzire Facelift:
The Dzire facelift is ready for launch in fact as Maruti's factory has already started making the first batch, reports say. With an updated front fascia using a larger chrome grille, new features (similar to ones seen on the refreshed Swift) and retuned engines for better fuel efficiency, the refreshed Dzire is poised to continue leading its segment even in 2015.
4. Maruti Celerio Diesel:
The Celerio diesel is expected to be first recipient of the all-new 0.8-liter diesel engine. Billed as the most affordable diesel-powered Maruti, the launch of the Celerio diesel is anticipated by April 2015. It will go up against the likes of the Chevrolet Beat diesel and the Grand i10 diesel, though on the economy front, the Maruti is sure to boast an industry-leading figure.
5. Maruti Ciaz RS:
The midsize Ciaz will benefit from a new sporty variant next year, sources say. With a comprehensive bodykit, matte-finished alloy wheels and Maruti's new SmartPlay infotainment system, the Ciaz RS (speculative name) will hope to increase the appeal of the sedan, and hopefully draw some customers away from the top-end variant of the Honda City, which gets a sunroof as standard.
6. Maruti Wagon R AMT:
Reports suggest that the next Maruti to benefit from the AMT (automated manual transmission) gearbox will be the Wagon R, one of Maruti's top-selling products. However, Maruti is likely to offer the AMT system only on the Stingray variant which gets added features like projector headlights, multi-spoke alloy wheels and clear-lens taillights. The Stingray, owing to its higher price, has not caught the fancy of buyers, but with an AMT, it just might, Maruti hopes.
7. Maruti YRA premium hatchback:
The all-new YRA will be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show as early as March next year, though its Indian launch could take until the second half of 2015. Thanks to numerous spyshots, the YRA's exterior and interior have already been revealed, and the car suggests itself to be a larger and more comfortable alternative to the Swift.
8. Maruti Ertiga Facelift:
In April 2015, the Ertiga will be three years old in the Indian market which calls for a mid-life facelift. Based on the Swift's platform, the Ertiga started a niche and has seen sales success with over 150,000 units being sold as of July this year. To continue this momentum, Maruti will carry out minor changes to the design of the car, equip it with more features (like electrically folding wing mirrors, parking sensors, Bluetooth etc), and increase the fuel efficiency of both engines. The company could also explore launching the Ertiga AT if sufficient demand exists.