The Truth About Cars » Maruti Suzuki The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Maruti Suzuki TTAC Salutes The Maruti 800 Tue, 11 Feb 2014 13:00:11 +0000 Maruti800_manhan



Despite an ailing presence in North America, Suzuki has been a pioneer in the Indian marketplace, with its Maruti Suzuki subsidiary selling over 10 million vehicles since inception in 1981, with the Maruti 800 serving as its core product.

Based on the tiny, Japanese-market Suzuki Fronte, the 800 used the Fronte’s chassis, with the body of a second-generation Suzuki Alto and a diminutive 800cc engine. For a low cost car in a developing country, this was fairly advanced, given that the Fronte was powered by a two-stroke engine at one point in its life.

By Western standards, the 800 is laughably spartan, packing just 37 horsepower and devoid of air-conditioning, power features, an automatic transmission, side mirrors or any hope of surviving a traffic accident. But it was the 800, not the Hindustan Ambassador, that mobilized India’s middle class, with many 800s serving as driving school vehicles, family transportation and in many cases, a step up from motoring on two wheels. Before the Datsun Go and Dacia Logan, the Maruti 800 was the original low cost car.

Like many other antiquated designs, the Maruti 800 has fallen victim to stricter standards, specifically emissions regulations that would require expensive upgrades to its powertrain. Given the substantial amount of road deaths in India, the chance for a safer alternative to take its place isn’t such a bad thing either.

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You Can Buy A New Stingray Right Now For Only $7,000! Sun, 25 Aug 2013 18:30:07 +0000  


Production on the all new seventh generation 2014 Corvette Stingray has begun, though they haven’t officially gone on sale yet while the inventory pipeline fills. It’s the first time in decades that the Stingray name has been used by the Corvette.  However, it turns out that you can buy a brand new Stingray right now, and for only about $7,000. There’s just one catch. It’s not a Corvette, made by Chevy or even sold in the United States.

Just yesterday we covered news about Tesla’s trademark troubles in China and potential conflicts with Ford over their registration of the Model E name here in the United States. It’s possible that Chevrolet may face a similar problem if it wants to expand the Corvette brand globally.

Today, in the comments to my post about Elio Motors, the question was raised, why is Elio building their own engine instead of buying it from a car company or engine manufacturer? I started to check out which car companies build 1 liter 3 cylinder engines to see just who could sell Elio Motors their, well, motors. Ford isn’t going to be selling anyone their one liter EcoBoost engine as they roll out the all new engine in their own cars, and GM’s new small 3 cylinder won’t see production for a while. I decided to check out what Suzuki is making, since the Elio prototype uses a Suzuki engine pulled out of something like a Geo Metro.

Speaking of pulling out, Suzuki has exited the U.S. car market, but there is one place in the world where they are the market leader, India. Decades ago when the then socialist government in India wanted to jumpstart an indigenous automobile industry, they invited Suzuki to join the Indian government in setting up Maruti Suzuki. As the Indian economy moved to more of a free-market system, the government has divested its shares, but Suzuki is still the best selling brand in India. So I checked out the Marti Suzuki retail web site for India, and what do I see?


They’re indeed selling a 1 liter 3 cylinder engine in India, and it’s available in four door hatchback called the Stingray that starts at just over 423,000 rupees, about $6,700, close to the suggested price of the Elio Motors three wheeler. I’ll have to check with our man on the subcontinent, Faisal Ali Khan, but I believe that the Suzuki Stingray competes with the Chevy Sail U-VA hatchback, at least on price.


As just referenced, Chevrolet does have a presence in India and GM has been expanding its production capacity in that country, for both local demand and for giving it options as an export hub should building cars in Korea get too expensive. It doesn’t, however sell the Corvette there, at least officially. The Captiva SUV is the most expensive Chevrolet branded vehicle on sale in India, starting at 2,349,802 rupees, about $37,000 in U.S. dollars. Still, there probably is at least a small market for the Vette in India. Luxury and high performance car makers have expanded their presence there. Porsche has seven dealers there. Jaguar, which is owned by Tata, an Indian company, has fifteen dealers. People may think of India as a poor country but some of its billion or so residents are rather wealthy. Not long ago an Indian father was arrested for letting his 9 year old son drive the family’s Ferrari 430 as a birthday present.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Great News Everyone! Maruti Alto 800 To Start At 244,000 Rupees Tue, 16 Oct 2012 19:48:37 +0000

Want something cheaper than the Dacia Sandero? Maruti Suzuki will sell you a brand new car for 244,000 rupees. That’s $4,613.

While Suzuki is on the ropes in North America, their fortunes in India have been traditionally strong. The Maruti Alto (Maruti being Suzuki’s Indian partner) was the best-selling car in India last year, continuing a 7 year reign. The Maruti 800 has sold millions of examples since its debut in 1983, and the upcoming Alto 800 that replaces it is an important model for the company.

After rioting at its plants this summer, Maruti needs the Alto 800 to be a hit. Our man on the subcontinent, Faisal Ali Khan, our man for all things India, has some some driving impressions.

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Rundown of Indian Press Coverage of Maruti Suzuki Riot & Lockdown: Talk of Conspiracies and Outside Influences Sat, 21 Jul 2012 18:57:54 +0000

The major Indian news operations are pretty much flooding the zone in covering the riot and lockdown at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant. Besides whatever labor unrest there was at play in the Manesar factory riot, internal politics within the state of Haryana or competition with Gujurat state may have had something to do with it, with accusations of conspiracies and outside influences. Here is a rundown of the news.

Financial Express:

Maruti Suzuki Chairman: Plant will not reopen until investigation is complete and corrective steps taken to prevent reoccurrence. Production will not be moved from Manesar.

Manesar lockdown cost: $47 million/month. Production cannot practically be shifted to other plants.

Gujarat Chief Minister Modi, already on trade mission to Japan, will meet with top Suzuki brass. The Manesar riot in Haryana state will no doubt be discussed as will the state of Gujarat’s desire to be the location of new Maruti Suzuki factories.

The Manesar violence will delay Maruti Suzuki’s launch of their new 800 cc small car, more fuel efficient and more expensive than their best selling Alto.

Six sarpanches (village chiefs) near Manesar plant allege conspiracy: “The incident of fire and killing of a senior executive by workers is a part of a larger conspiracy to shift the plant from here. Gurgaon gives the maximum revenue to the state and some people might be envious of this and might be behind the incident.” Gurgaon is the industrial hub of Haryana state.

The Economic Times:

Indian Gov’t Minister: Violence at Maruti Suzuki in Manesar “will send a very wrong message to the entire world,” about doing business in India.

Haryana state Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda will meet with Maruti Suzuki Managing Director and CEO Shinzo Nakanishi to address company’s concerns.

The Times of India:

Maruti Suzuki’s CEO, Shinzo Nakanishi, takes hard line on labor violence. “There is no compromise on violence. When violence happens, we should not have any consideration for any kind of compromise.”

Maruti Suzuki chairman RC Bhargava unsure when Manesar plant will reopen and resume production. Denies that it will be closed. “How long it will take? 10 days? 15 days? I don’t know.”

Bhargava: “Talks of Maruti unit moving out of Manesar is an absolute fiction … We are not moving the plant out of Manesar. Maruti is flag-bearer of industrialization in Haryana.”

Hindustan Times:

Nakanishi takes personal responsibility for “bad dot” in Maruti Suzuki history. “It is the biggest challenge in my career. I have put a bad dot in the company’s history.”

Maruti Suzuki chairman Bhargava on violence, “Personally, it is an experience that has left me shattered.”

Haryana state government calls Manesar plant lockdown “appropriate”, says union workers were “influenced from outside”.

Bhargava calls for Haryana state to expedite investigation. Maruti Suzuki will also conduct internal inquiry.

Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM):

SIAM president condemns violence as “totally unprovoked and barbaric.”

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks  for reading – RJS

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Suzuki Death Watch 1: The Prologue Tue, 17 Jul 2012 12:00:16 +0000

When the question of whether a Death Watch should be started for Suzuki was first posed here at TTAC in April, there was a lot going on behind the scenes at the stylized “S” brand but not many facts filtering out to the public.

As of today, TTAC’s Death Watch starts for Suzuki’s North American operations. And if you haven’t been following the drama, here’s some background for you…

Once an established niche brand making big deals with GM and high on success, American Suzuki has continually lost dealers since 2005, either due to dealers deciding to leave the brand or Suzuki offering $50,000 buyout packages for proprietors to wind down their operations. More than half of the remaining 246 dealers sell less than five new vehicles a month, which is not surprising considering Suzuki only has four models to choose from in the United States. In Canada, the Equator is no longer offered, so dealers north of the border must rely on the Grand Vitara, SX4, and Kizashi.

The changes aren’t just in the stores. In Brea, California, home of American Suzuki’s HQ, cost-cutting seems to have become the focus instead of a support exercise. Head of marketing, Steve Younan, left the company in January and no replacement has been hired to fill the role. Director of public relations, Jeff Holland, also quietly left Suzuki without a replacement announced. The company ended its agreement with J.D. Power and Associates for consumer satisfaction data with no replacement. Suzuki’s social media presence on Facebook has showed a couple signs of life recently, but the corporate Twitter account, @SuzukiAuto, has been disabled. As for future product, the biggest announcements have been refreshes to the SX4 and Grand Vitara, which are both getting on in years.

American Suzuki President Seiichi Maruyama and chairman Takashi Iwatsuki seem to be gutting the company, like some kind of automotive themed slasher flick.

On the other hand, global Suzuki operations have never been better. Maruti Suzuki in India enjoys significant success while the Suzuki Swift, not available in North America, receives repeated acclaim and accolades from the automotive press and car buying public.

So, is American Suzuki just winding down operations and finalizing their legal obligations before pulling the plug? Or is something larger at play in Brea? Only time will tell. But, it isn’t looking good, folks.

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Maruti Suzuki Gets Touchy Mon, 01 Mar 2010 15:48:39 +0000

Last November, Suzuki received a fuel leakage complaint on three cars in Europe and one in India. Suzuki did what Suzuki was required to do: Send owners of the “A-Star” (A.K.A, Suzuki Alto, Nissan Pixo) an invitation to go to their dealer and have the fuel pump fixed. As usual, this story received next to no media attention. In the years BT (before Toyota,) who cared about a yet another recall?

That was then, this is AT. Today, someone said “Suzuki has a recall” on the floor of the New Delhi stock exchange. Holy cow!

The Maruti Suzuki stock dropped like a rock. Traders that found themselves on the wrong side of the deal complained immediately that the stock exchange should have been notified much earlier about such a significant development. Sound familiar? Miffed Maruti Suzki issued a statement clarifying that it had “no intention” of trying to hush up the affair. They claim that the reason they didn’t go public was that India doesn’t have a framework for recalls. Now that’s an interesting piece of information if you drive in India.

The Times of India reports that Maruti Suzuki didn’t inform the stock market regulator, Sebi, because they believed that the amount required to spend on the recall process would not have much impact on the company’s financials and wouldn’t impact on profitability.

Maruti Suzuki chairman R C Bhargava said “We are supposed to inform only if there is any significant amount involved.”

And because Bertel was slammed yesterday for making a calculation mistake behind the decimal point, I won’t fall into that trap and leave the conversion of Rupees and Indian numbering systems as an exercise to the dear reader (with a little help from Wikipedia.) Said R C Bhargava : “The upper limit for Maruti is around Rs 12 crore which is not large when we read it in relation to the company’s annual PBT amount of Rs 3000 crore. The amount is less than 0.4 percent of our PBT and would not make no difference to our price-to-earnings ratio.” All still with us?

After the money part was (hopefully) settled, Bhargava blasted his critics. Three cars in Europe and one in India, “and this out of the 70,000 units we sold in Europe and about 30,000 units in India. As a responsible company we decided to recall all the cars. We took special care to ensure the problem does not come across on any other car anywhere.”

Car companies can get really touchy about recalls these days. I wonder why?

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India’s Nano Wars Thu, 12 Nov 2009 16:33:08 +0000 Everyone has the Nano in its sights (courtesy:

With Tata unable to produce enough Nanos to keep up with demand, more automakers are gunning for its entry-level segment. Renault-Nissan is teaming up with its Indian-market partner Bajaj to produce a car that’s even cheaper to produce than the Nano. “I can tell you the cost of this car would be lower than any car today made in India,” Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn tells Gasgoo, adding that a lower production cost wouldn’t guarantee that the new car would be priced lower than Nano. The Renault ULC, as the low-cost car is being called during development, will be available in India in 2012, by which time GM and Toyota could have competing models on the market. Ford’s recently-announced Indian market low-cost car, based on the discontinued previous-generation European Fiesta, will be positioned above the Nano. And that strategy also appeals to Honda. The Motor Company tells the WSJ that rather than competing directly with the lowest-cost segment, a sub-Fit (Jazz, as it’s known globally) hatchback will be introduced around 2012 to compete with Ford’s model. The Jazz/Fit currently sells for about $15,000 in India, leaving a huge window between there and the Nano’s approximately $3,000 price price tag.

For automakers scrambling to break into India’s auto market there seems to be two separate strategies: the major global players are gunning for the lowest-cost segment, while the second-tier players are shooting just above it. The exception to this rule is Volkswagen, which was the first to the Chinese market and has become the number one player there. And unless a rumored tie-up between VW and Suzuki takes place (Maruti Suzuki is by far the biggest automaker in India), it will have almost no presence in India. Meanwhile, GM’s presence seems set to be eclipsed by its Chinese partner, SAIC. Hindu Businessline reports that SAIC will likely pick up 50 percent of GM’s India operations in hopes of developing a greater export market for Chinese-produced vehicles, and lowering the cost of GM’s Indian-market offerings. The light truck and low-cost car segments are seen as Chinese firms’ greatest strengths vis-a-vis its Indian competitors, but with the globals flooding in to India in hopes of gaining a foothold in one of the last huge growth-potential markets, India’s car wars won’t be a gimme for anyone.

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