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Maruti Suzuki revamps top-selling India car as rivals circle

Published on Oct 16, 2012 4:41 PM

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI (REUTERS) - Maruti Suzuki India Limited has launched a cheaper, more powerful and fuel-efficient version of its Alto - the world's best-selling small car - as competitors including Hyundai and Tata Motors flex their muscles in the entry-level market.

Since 1984, Maruti's entry-level models have outsold anything in India's car market, as millions of middle-class families and first-time owners in the developing country flocked to its Maruti 800 model and its successor, the Alto.

Cheap to buy and run, both cars became instant best-sellers in a sector that Maruti Suzuki dominated until the late 1990s. But as more automakers move into the market, and more Indians get the cash for larger cars, its grip has slipped.

Sales of Maruti's entry-level models are down 21 percent so far in the current fiscal year, hit by greater competition from rivals including Hyundai Motor Co's Eon and Tata Motors Ltd's Indian-made Nano.

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