Three months after its launch, Maruti Suzuki's multi-purpose vehicle, Eeco, has notched sales figures of over 7,000 units a month.
With a price tag of Rs 2.68 lakh for the base model, Eeco is the cheapest product from the Maruti stable after Maruti 800 (Rs 1.92 lakh), Omni (Rs 2.19 lakh) and Alto (Rs 2.28 lakh).
The response from consumers to this new arrival has more than compensated the dwindling sales of its entry-level car, Maruti 800. The sale of the 'people's car' is set to fall further as it has been taken off the roads following the implementation of Bharat Stage-IV emission norms from April 1 in 13 cities.
With sales of Maruti 800 falling to an average of 2,700 a month (a decline of 33 per cent from 2008-09), the three models could be the key entry-level volume models in the future, say experts.
"To a certain extent, Eeco will be an entry-level product for Maruti in the mass market segment, along with Alto. But with lot of competition coming in and the diminishing price difference between products, it will be extremely difficult for companies to maintain their lead in the changing landscape," said Abdul Majeed, analyst and partner, Price Waterhouse.
"Eeco has a huge significance in our product portfolio. The demand for the vehicle is going up to 6,000-7,000 units a month, which is two-three times of the 2,000 to 3,000 units that we had anticipated at the time of its launch," said Mayank Pareek, executive officer (sales and marketing), Maruti Suzuki India.
According to Pareek, there is a huge back order for the vehicle and customers are waiting for three to four months for the Eeco.
With the overwhelming response, the Eeco is in fact, inching closer to some of the largest selling cars in the Maruti stable, which include the Swift Dzire. The company sells an average of 8,000 units of Dzire a month.
The other big sellers include the Alto, which sells over 20,000 units a month, followed by WagonR at 13,000 units and Swift at 12,000 units. The Omni also sells about 8,000 units a month and its numbers have not gone down despite the launch of the Eeco.
Vaishali Jajoo, senior analyst, Angel Broking, said, "Eeco, being a better product in terms of space and engine capacity, has an edge over Omni and therefore is in demand for personal use. Right now, Maruti is selling both Omni and Eeco together but with the growing popularity of Eeco, the company may at some point in time even replace Omni."
Though Eeco, which is placed in the van-type or C-segment with the Omni, is priced higher at between Rs 2.68 lakh and Rs 3.04 lakh, it has managed to create a market for itself and become a preferred brand for Indians who dream of a bigger, multipurpose vehicle that is economical.
The Eeco, conceived and designed in-house by Maruti Suzuki engineers specifically for the Indian market, seems to have gained the first-mover advantage, as it fills a gap in the MPV segment.
Built on the platform of the unsuccessful Versa that was discontinued in the middle of last year, Eeco is catering to the mass market that has been waiting for a seven-seater, affordable MPV (most of the current MPVs and multi-utility vehicles are priced at Rs 5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh).