By on December 11, 2009

Soon to be replaced? The 2009 Alto. Picture courtesy rootr.blogspot.com

Das Autohaus [sub] has it from India’s Economic Times that VW and Suzuki are planning a low-priced mini-car which could give Tata’s Nano some problems.

The car is supposed to replace the Suzuki Alto, at a price of  between $4350 and $5850  – twice the price of the Nano.  For the same amount of money, the car could be sold in Europe also. A VW spokesperson said “it’s too early to think about these things.” Which in Wolfsburg means: “Yes.”

Suzuki has in India what Tata lacks: An overpowering presence and the factories to build the thing. With VW’s assistance, it should be safe enough to qualify for EU certification – no small feat for such a tiny car.

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14 Comments on “VW And Suzuki Planning The Nano-Swatter?...”


  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Suzuki is already building Kei cars in Japan.  This shouldn’t be a major leap.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    @OldandSlow

    Of course.  In fact, does anybody know if Japanese Kei cars would be legal in India as they currently are?  I would think that VW/Suzuki could do pretty well by just decontenting a Kei car and selling it in India.  They’d just have to do the durability testing to make sure that it would hold up to India’s god awful roads.

  • avatar
    Nutsaboutcars

    Suzuki has, for more than a decade, sold a POS called the “Suzuki Maruti” in India for about $5k, and they even had the audacity to export it in Europe. I have a relative who is a successful dentist there, she and her dentist husband usually drive BMW 5-series, but something possessed her once and she made the tragic mistake to buy one of these POS for city driivng. Worst car she ever owned, she told me, utterly unreliable junk. And she has owned her share of dogs in her long lifetime, before she became affluent!

    • 0 avatar
      goacom

      No, there is no car called Suzuki Maruti. It is like saying that you can buy a car called a Chevrolet. Suzuki Maruti makes several models in India. I suspect you are referring to the Maruti 800, their cheapest model in India, which costs around $4-5K depending upon the exchange rate.
      The 800 is indeed ancient, stemming from a late 1980′s or early 90′s Suzuki Swift design.  However it was India’s best seller for almost two decades, stemming from it being cheap and reliable. Maruti also has the best dealer/customer service network in India – something that VW America could learn a lot from!
      The millions of people who have purchased the 800 and the fact that Maruti Suzuki still has over a 40% market share in India makes a mockery of your statement … unless of course you are right and the millions of buyers are wrong!

    • 0 avatar
      drifter

      I have owned two “Suzuki Maruti”, the 1990 800 and 2006 Swift. Both we still have in the family and have been far more reliable that the 3-series I currently drive. The car was is shop yesterday to fix the blower motor, today it is acting up again with temps around 20F.

      Now with VW tieup, I am worried for future “Suzuki Maruti” as they might suffer from tuetonic unreliability.

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    This is certainly a much nicer car than I would imagine for $5K, but is it really in the same market as the Tata Nano? I had thought the Nano was to be the Model T for India’s masses, which this car is clearly a step above.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    It’s about time someone made a car for people that have enough money for four doors, but not enough for four sets of roll up windows.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    My Neighbor remembers seeing Indians riding motorbikes with two passengers, and more than a few pulling 2-wheel carts with two or three more people on them, back in the early ’90′s.  I thought the Nano was an alternative/upgrade to that, at a reasonable price. How does a nearly $6k car compete with that? Aren’t they targeting different markets?

  • avatar
    Nutsaboutcars

    “I suspect you are referring to the Maruti 800, their cheapest model in India, which costs around $4-5K depending upon the exchange rate.”
     
    Don’t miss the forest for the trees. It is utterly insignificant. I am referring to an otter POS of a small  car that was sold in Europe (the gall!)  as the “Suzuki Maruti” and my first cousin made the terrible mistake to buy one as a city car. My message is that it was an utter POS, and that was all. I couldf care less what its tech specs were, I would never recommend it to anyone, let alone buy it myself, obviously!

  • avatar
    Nutsaboutcars

    “I have owned two “Suzuki Maruti”, the 1990 800 and 2006 Swift. Both we still have in the family and have been far more reliable that the 3-series I currently drive. The car was is shop yesterday to fix the blower motor, today it is acting up again with temps around 20F. Now with VW tieup, I am worried for future “Suzuki Maruti” as they might suffer from tuetonic unreliability.”
     
    Thanks for the laughs… this must be what they call “The theater of the absurd”… I don’t know what vintage your alleged 3 series is (1978?) or how badly it has been maintained, but to pretend that you worry about VW making these POS tin cans even less reliable than their rock-bottom utter unreliability record of the indian YUGO, the Maruti, so far, is just mind-boggling.
     
    Every company that VW ever bought has done SPECTACURLARLY BETTER than before, and this is not just the lowly, primitive   Indian Suzukis, but companies with a HERITAGE of superior ENgineering such as SKODA (those of you who know their 20th century history would know) and also SEAT, the Spanish arm of FIAT,
     
    VW bought these and had them make VW clones with different styling but the same EXCELLENCE in driving and QUALITY, and lower prices than the corresponding VWs, and they areHUGE, HUGE hits in Europe and the rest of the world (they are not imported in the US)

    • 0 avatar
      goacom

      Obviously you are quite clueless about Skoda’s problems in India! No doubt, Skodas are nice cars, like their VW clones (FYI, I own VWs) , but they have been total and utter failures in India. Horrible dealership service, reliability and quality issues…. the list goes on. Skoda sells as many cars in India in one year as Maruti sells in two days. Very sad indeed.
      You seem to be unable to grasp the difference between quality/reliability versus cheap/economy transportation. The Marutis are cheap, boring, simple, but reliable and backed with a good dealer network. This is a pre condition for success in India and much of the developing world.  The Skoda’s (like their VW replicas) are a pleasure to drive, but, oh boy, when they fail, one better hope you have a good dealer or service mechanic near you. Having a lot of cash would also be a plus.
      If your cousin was having problem with his Maruti, it probably was because she did not realize the difference between gasoline or diesel, or because the concept of an oil change was foreign to her, or because she was driving it with three wheels.  Marutis are reliable. Period.  They have millions of buyers that back this record.

  • avatar
    Nutsaboutcars

    I could care less about Skoda’s problems in any one particular small market, and India, despite its large size and population, is indeed a very small and insignificant market for most automakers and Skoda in particular. Note that CHINA, with a similar population, has a 11 million vehicle market in 2009, equal to the US or even bigger, for the first time ever, ie, the biggest in the world, and India only sells about a million cars (plus change, definitely much less than 2 million), but 8.5 million motorcycles, most them tiny 50 CC death traps. That’s why I applaud the Nano and hope it will be far more reliable and higher quality than all the currtent JUNK one can buy there for a few $1000.
     
    Back to my point about Skoda, under Communism they were procusing some really pathetic vehicles, but when VW bought them, a real rennaisance happened! Skodas are affordable VW clones and also slightly different designs that have sold very well in Europe, one of the toughest markets in the world. There is no comparison between today’s skodas and the skodas of the 60s and 70s, which were primityive, underperforming, noisy, cramped junky POS.

  • avatar
    LeaperNYC

    “I could care less about Skoda’s problems in any one particular small market”
    What this thread has taught me is that the above statement is absurd and true at the same time.  Consumers can face wildly different experiences in different markets based on the local conditions and the service (both dealership and unofficial) network. Peugeots were long the rage in French-speaking Africa for instance, as Suzuki appears to be in India. Consumers everywhere are right to only care about service issues in those regions where they drive, and commentators should be wary of extrapolating their experiences to other markets.
    Separately, I too fail to see how a $5-6k car is competition for Tata’s Nano.

  • avatar
    B10er

    Nuts…

    Show a little respect. You talk with such force about cars you’ve never owned, and probably never driven.

    It’s ok to have an opinion, but its even better to know when to talk because you have something to contribute, and when to keep shut when you have nothing to say.

    I don’t know much about Suzuki’s presence in India..hence no comment. I do own a 1980s Skoda, and I frigin’ love the thing. I wouldn’t buy one for my mother, but its simple to fix, distinctive, and a blast to drive. I also own a BMW and an Alpina, so I’m no Skoda fanboy…just speaking from actual experience.
    Oh…and a 1978 BMW e21 3-series is a solid little car too – very reliable if remotely well maintained.


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