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|February 9, 2000||
Maruti postpones diesel Esteem launch
Maruti Udyog Limited has, for the present, decided to apply brakes on the launch of diesel version of its mid-size offering Esteem. The company has, for long, been toying with the idea of introducing diesel hearts on Esteem as well as Gypsy.
''But, increasing demand for our petrol versions, and a slight softening of demand for diesel cars, have forced us to put off the launch of diesel Esteem for the time being,'' company sources said.
As per an internal launch schedule, the diesel Esteem was timed for launch in December 1999. ''However, the car is now, not likely to hit the roads soon. We would be concentrating on our recent new launches, including Baleno and Wagon-R. Besides, the petrol versions are also in great demand and we are utilising all our resources to meet the demand,'' an official said.
The diesel version of Esteem has already been developed and tested. The car also sports the Peugeot TUD5 engine that powers the Zen-Diesel. Rohtash Mal, Maruti's chief general manager, that a time-frame for launch of the diesel Esteem is yet to be finalised.
''The testing of various options and product variants is an ongoing process at MUL, Esteem diesel being one of them. The Esteem diesel would be introduced at an appropriate time, and as per the market requirement as is the case with all other products from MUL stable,'' he said.
The company is also exploring the feasibility of introducing its luxury car in two new versions -- diesel and station wagon. ''We are currently computing and evaluating the customer response observed during the recently concluded Auto Expo. Once we are through with our study, only then will we be in a position to decide on which of the models displayed can be considered for introduction into Indian market,'' Mal said.
Meanwhile, the company is reportedly gearing up to set up its fourth plant to raise production capacity to beyond 500,000 units annually.
The existing three plants have an installed capacity of 350,000 units. Maruti hopes to sell more than 400,000 units in the current fiscal. The company has been functioning at over 130 per cent capacity utilisation for the past few years to meet the growing demand for its cars.
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