Maruti to expand automatic offering in small cars
The new-look Ritz hatchback, which will be launched around September, will offer a 4-speed automatic option aimed at women buyers and senior citizens. The new Ritz, already being exported to Europe, will be offered with upgraded petrol and diesel engines.
Maruti had experimented with auto transmission in the Wagon-R and the Zen, but the price differential of about Rs 1 lakh vis-à-vis the manual transmission models, kept customers away. This had led the company to keep the price artificially low in the case of A-Star, a company official said.
At present, Maruti offers an automatic option in the A-Star, Dzire and SX4 sedans, apart from the imported Kizashi and Grand Vitara SUV. "The margins may not be very high in automatic models because of high import content and lack of local vendors, but we want to be the first mover so that gains may come later.
Increasing congestion is improving the case for such cars, plus there are many Indians who return from abroad and look for such options," a company official said. About 20 per cent of A-Star sales come from the automatic variant.