One of Maruti Suzuki’s top-selling models Omni will exit showrooms by mid of the year as the company has no plan to upgrade the van to meet upcoming norms.
In its 35th year of uninterrupted production, the Omni will be replaced by its bigger and much younger cousin Eeco, confirmed a top official of Maruti Suzuki speaking to Moneycontrol.
“Omni would not be upgraded to meet the next generation norms,” said RC Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki. On how Maruti plans to compensate the void in sales volumes, Bhargava said, “Eeco sale are going up and it is a similar vehicle."
Government rules make it mandatory for all cars to sport at least one driver airbag, a speed warning system, a seatbelt reminder for driver and co-driver and rear parking sensors as standard from July 1, 2019.
This will be followed by a requirement to upgrade all existing models to meet the crash test norms from October 1, 2019. Thereafter, six months later or April 1, 2020, India will embrace Bharat Stage VI, the latest emission norm in the world.
All these will put significant cost pressure, forcing companies to phase out some models. While it will be easy for some companies to phase out laggards, for Maruti Suzuki it will be a tough call.
The Omni, after all, sells an average of more than 7,000 a month, which is more than the entire bouquet of models that smaller companies with 4-6 product offerings each such as Renault, Nissan, Volkswagen, Skoda and Fiat have in India.
The five-seater Omni will cause a dent in Maruti Suzuki’s sales as not every customer will move to the Eeco because of the price gap. The base version of the Omni is priced at Rs 2.85 lakh while the base version of the Eeco (five-seater version) is priced at Rs 3.37 lakh (both prices ex-showroom, Delhi). Alto 800 remains the cheapest car in Maruti’s stable priced at Rs 2.66 lakh.
The Omni has served a variety of customers in its decade-long career. While the minivan vanished from the garages of several urban customers it has continued to service the taxi fleet in big and Tier-II cities.
In other cities and towns, the Omni has remained the top choice of customers with big families and those running small businesses.
Over the years Maruti Suzuki added more variants to the model and it now has more versions - five-seater, eight-seater, cargo and ambulance – than any other personal car model in India. The model has clocked close to 16 million sales since its debut in 1985.