SkodaAuto may take Maruti's help to develop small car

SkodaAuto today launched its sports utility vehicle Yeti in India, priced between Rs 15.40 lakh and Rs 16.63 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).

"There could be a possibility that we will take Maruti's input in the small car," SkodaAuto India Board Member and Director (Sales and Marketing) Thomas Kuehl told reporters here when asked if the company will seek Maruti Suzuki's help in developing its proposed small car for the Indian market.

SkodaAuto's parent Volkswagen had last year picked up 19.9 per cent stake in Suzuki Motor Corp for USD 2.5 billion, following which the partners have been exploring possibilities of joint production and vehicle design.

"Suzuki is interested in our engines and we (Volkswagen) are interested in Suzuki's expertise in small car and without Maruti, Suzuki will be not in today's position.

"It (Maruti Suzuki's input in SkodaAuto's small car) is a decision that will be discussed and taken by both the (firms') headquarters," Kuehl said.

Last month, both Volkswagen (VW) and Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) had said that the two global car makers are likely to announce India-specific plans that may include joint production and vehicle design by early next year.

A new entrant to India, VW is yet to gain firm ground. In contrast, MSI is the largest brand with about 50 per cent share in the 15 lakh units Indian car market.

SkodaAuto had announced to introduce a small car in the Indian market within next two years at a price between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh. It had also announced to launch a sedan in Rs 6-10 lakh range in 2011.

The development of the small car is going on and the company planned to launch the model in both petrol and diesel versions.

The over 15 lakh units strong Indian passenger car market witnesses most of its sales coming from the small car segment and it has recently seen entry of many products by global car majors, including Ford's Figo, General Motors' Beat and Volkswagen's Polo, in the Rs 3-5 lakh bracket.

Talking about Yeti, Kuehl said the company is targeting to sell 400-500 units every month.

"We are now focusing on a smaller diesel version and also a petrol variant. These will come in next year," he added.

SkodaAuto today introduced the SUV with a 2.0 litre diesel engine and the company claims that it gives a mileage of 17.67 km per litre as per the Automotive Research Association of India standards.

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