Alto, the Maruti brand synonymous with small cars, introduced the new generation K10 on Thursday, aiming to consolidate its position further am­id shrinking demand for hatchbacks.

With prices starting at Rs 399,000 and going up to Rs 533,500 (for manual transmission), the new model claims fuel efficiency of 24.90 km per litre.

The Japanese car maker, which has been selling 100 Altos every hour for the last 22 years, had discontinued the model in February 2020.

From Thursday, Maruti began selling the new K10 alongside the Alto 800.

It comes with both five-speed manual and automatic gear shift and boasts a peppier engine, better looks, and more bells and whistles than the earlier generation.

The annual run rate of the older Alto K10 was 65,000-80,000 units per annum.

It remains to be seen whether the buyers will lap up the new version in the same manner.

Positioned between the Alto 800 and S-Presso, Maruti is prepared for some of the K10 sales occurring at the cost of S-Presso.

“The pricing is very competitive and may help Maruti bump up overall volumes.

“It also helps the company that the model doesn’t have any formidable competition.

“It may also help revive the entry-level car market to some extent,” said an analyst at a dom­estic brokerage.

“It only rivals the higher priced Renault Kwid.

“With its larger dimensions and sportier look, the K10 stands to gain, the analyst added.

Since Maruti discontinued the earlier generation K10, the market has been gripped by the SUV frenzy — the segment making up six out of every 10 passenger vehicles sold.

But that doesn’t make the small car market any less significant, said Hisashi Takeuchi, MD and CEO, Maruti Suzuki India.

“While SUVs have gain­ed popularity in recent times, a large section of customers still prefers hatchbacks,” he said.

In the last fiscal, the Indian passenger vehicle industry sold over 11.5 lakh hatchbacks, of which Maruti cornered over 68 per cent market share, he added.

“As a market leader, we need to keep the hatchback segm­ent energised with exciting products.”

The share of entry-level hatches in the overall passenger vehicle market is expected to come down to 251, 582 units by the end of FY23 from 369,483 units in FY19, even as the share of utility vehicles is expected to jump to 16,76,300 units from 976,695, according to industry estimates.

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