Amid the ongoing standoff with the workers at its Manesar plant , car maker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) is understood to be planning a new variant of its entry level sedan Dzire that will be rolled out from the unit.
In a clear sign that the management is looking ahead irrespective of whether or not the existing workers resume duties, MSIL has started trial production of the new Dzire that will qualify for excise duty benefit given on small cars in India.
The new Dzire will, however, be exported to markets in Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East before being launched in India early next year, a source said.
"The new Dzire will be exported to countries like Morocco, Algeria, Chile, Peru and Saudi Arabia to start with. Initially, 1,000-1,500 units every month are being targeted...
to be produced only at the Manesar plant," the source said.
The export of the car will start by this year-end.
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"For the domestic market, the new Dzire will be launched at the Auto Expo next January," the source added.
At present, cars less than four metres in length and engine capacity of up to 1200 cc for petrol and 1,500 cc for diesel come under the definition of 'small car' and attract excise duty of 10 per cent.
Since the existing Dzire is longer than four metres, it did not qualify as a small car.
It is understood that MSI will retain the existing Dzire to target fleet operators and tour operators unlike what it did with the Swift by replacing the old model with a new version. The new Dzire will be based on the new Swift platform.
The tussle with workers has severely hit MSI's plans to cut down on the waiting period, mainly for Swift. Since the launch of the new Swift in August, booking so far has crossed the 90,000 mark. The petrol variant has a waiting period of 4-5 months, while for diesel it is 6-7 months.
With its existing workers refusing to sign the good conduct bond, the management has brought in new workers at the plant in order to normalise production there.
The company's combined output of the Swift from its Manesar and Gurgaon plants touched 650 units a day on Thursday, after it was completely stopped when the standoff began on August 29.
Later in a statement, Maruti Suzuki India said it produced 670 Swift cars on Friday, combined from Manesar and Gurgaon plants.
"As the manpower strength at Manesar plant is going up steadily, the company is planning to further scale up production in the plant in the coming days," it added.
Company officials also met District Administration officials on Manesar issue but no talks were held with the agitating workers, it added.
MSI further said it is also planning to start production of SX4 and A-Star models at Manesar in next three-four days.
"The company will continue to bring more trained people in Manesar plants in the coming days," it said, adding 200 experienced and ITI trained people who were brought in at the plant on Thursday have joined various production functions.
At present, over 1,300 people are working in Manesar plants, it added.