New Delhi: The 11th Auto Expo on Thursday kicked off with the country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki unveiling its compact SUV XA Alpha as the company aims to enter into newer segments.

"India is on course to become one of the top automobile economies of the world, powered by the middle class and continued government support. Customers will become more and more sophisticated.

"The choice of automobile will be dictated more and more by the way of life of customers. We will launch new products and create new categories to their choice," Maruti Suzuki Managing Director and CEO Shinzo Nakanishi said.

He said the company will expand the range of its popular K-series engine, and continue to offer diesel vehicles, apart from launching new products.

The concept XA Alpha showcases the unified R&D of Suzuki Motor Corp and Maruti Suzuki India.
About 5 Maruti engineers were involved in the project to develop the new concept alongwith the engineers of Suzuki, which took about 10 months.

Nakanishi further said the SUV segment accounts for 14 per cent of the total automobile market in India and since the company does not have presence in the segment, it needs one to retain its leadership position.

Commenting on the Indian market, he said, "The slowdown is short-term and temporary and Maruti network and capacity are designed for long term."
He, however, added that the company does not see good sales growth in the rest of the ongoing fiscal.

The latest edition of Auto Expo will witness as many as 50 global brands showcasing their products. The event will witness the unveiling of 24 cars by domestic companies and eight by global players, besides eight two-wheelers by homegrown firms.

The event will be open to the public from January 7 to 11. The organisers have decided to restrict the number of people present inside the venue to one lakh daily, including 30,000 people from the exhibitors' side, a move that could cost the Delhi Auto Expo its tag of being the world's second-largest auto show in terms of footfalls.    

Suzuki launches Hayate, unveils Swish125

Eyeing Indian mass motorcycle segment, Suzuki Motorcycle India (SMIPL) on Thursday launched Hayate, an 110cc bike, which will cost over Rs 40,000, at the Auto Expo 2012.

SMIPL, a subsidiary of Japan's Suzuki Motor Corporation, also unveiled Swish125 -- a 'value packed scooter' – priced at Rs 45,431 (Delhi ex-showroom price) and is targeted at the young adults of urban India. The four-stroke engine scooter will be available at SMIPL dealers by March.

SMIPL Vice-President, Sales and Marketing Atul Gupta, said the Hayate, meaning 'Fresh Breeze', will be available in the market from April.

"During the three months time, we will work on the pricing ... it will be competitively priced," Gupta he said adding the price would not be less than Rs 40,000.

He said the company is undertaking capacity expansion and strengthening its network. SMIPL will be increasing its annual capacity from the current 3.6 lakh units to 5.4 lakh units by 2013.

(Agencies)