Thursday 11 November 2010

Re-badged Suzukis for India (IN)

Under the Volkswagen-Suzuki tie-up last year, rebadged Suzuki Altos and Wagon Rs could be sold as VW’s and Skoda’s in India.

According to sources, Volkswagen and Suzuki are conversing about rebadging the current Alto as a Volkswagen and the Wagon R as a Skoda, starting in 2012.

These will slot in the range initially allocated for the variants of the Up/Lupo city-car that Volkswagen, Skoda and Seat are developing for Europe. The Up/Lupo won’t be sold in India because of the technology in the cars, with the cost to set up production nearby to avoid high import duties on European-sourced production, will price them out of the market.

Due to tight deadlines and cost-cutting, the revisions will strictly be limited to altered headlights, bumpers and minor trim. Interior and metalwork will remain intact. It is understood that VW may be arranging to drop a Fiat-sourced 1.3 MultiJet diesel, which Suzuki assembles under licence in India for the Alto and Wagon R.

Production is likely to be given to Volkswagen’s Chakan factory, given that Suzuki’s plant which is operated under the Maruti brand is working hard meeting demand. Last year, Suzuki/Maruti manufactured 1.1m vehicles for a 54% share, and will have to add an additional 500,000 to please the growth to 3m units a year expected by 2012.

Exports of the rebadged vehicles seem highly unlikely, unless Eastern Europe demands extra low-cost cars.

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