Weak sales in the last few months have been bugging every manufacturer now and they are coming up with new ways to suffice for the loss in numbers. Maruti Suzuki, the country’s largest automaker, in March has launched a stripped down variant of one of its best selling models – the Alto – for the taxi segment.
Its called the Alto H1 and is specifically targeted towards buyers who run their cars for Ola, Uber or other such taxi aggregators. This move came in response to weak sales and to create an alternate demand source from commercial users.
The Maruti Alto H1 taxi is powered by the same 800 cc engine and is priced at Rs. 3.64 lakhs (ex-showroom, Chennai). It only gets power steering and air conditioning as standard features and even misses out on power windows and a music system. The Alto H1 has only been released in a few markets like Tamil Nadu as of yet.
The Alto H1 is the third car from Maruti Suzuki to be offered in the taxi segment. The Swift Dzire Tour and the Celerio H2 have been doing their duty with cab aggregates before they were joined by the Alto H1.
Maruti’s domestic passenger car sales have seen only a 5.3% growth from last fiscal and in April 2019, Maruti saw a decline of 20% year-on-year sales. The Alto H1 is expected to bring some relief and since fuel economy is of top priority to taxi drivers, the Alto’s 22 km per litre fuel economy will just fit right in the market.
The Alto saw an average of 21,000 sales per month last year but reports have said that there has been no growth ever since. Primarily so, because even first time buyers are now looking at cars from a segment above like the Swift or the Baleno and the entry-level segment has taken a hit.
Meanwhile, with the launch of the Alto facelift last month, Maruti has introduced a BS-VI compliant engine, additional safety features, and a few technologies and design updates. The Maruti Alto is also the first entry-level car to be BS-VI compliant. Whether the facelift will turn things in favour of Maruti, only time will tell.