Maruti Suzuki Celerio AMT outsells manual

Maruti Suzuki Celerio with the AMT gearbox seems to be outselling the Celerio manual at almost every dealership in the country



Maruti Suzuki Celerio AMT outsells manual



India has always been a manual transmission favouring country due to a few key reasons. Most of these reasons are preconceived notions in the minds of the Indian public and sadly due to ‘word-of-mouth’ being one of the few key factors in the average Indian’s car buying process, the automatic gearbox has earned a poor reputation. Maruti’s tryst with the automatic gearbox started way back in the late 80’s when they equipped their hot selling Maruti 800 with a 3-speed automatic. Later in the mid 90’s, Maruti Suzuki offered an automatic version of both their Zen and Esteem with the same old 3-speed automatic gearbox. Needless to say, these cars rarely sold in decent numbers and were soon taken off the shelf. A similar trend could be seen with the addition of an automatic variant in the Wagon R and later the A-Star, none of which set the charts on fire. 


The biggest reasons why these entry-level hatchbacks with automatic transmissions failed to vow the public were quite simple. Apart from offering considerably lower fuel economy than their manual counterparts, the automatic versions were also extremely overpriced. For example, an automatic A-Star was as expensive as a mid-range Suzuki Swift making it a considerably bad value for money option. The other reason, one that is quite unfortunate, is the preconceived notion that automatics are high on maintenance. All these reasons combined usually put off the first time buyer. Learning from all these mistakes though, Maruti seems to have got it right with its new Celerio.


The Celerio comes with an Automatic Manual Transmission, essentially a manual transmission with an electromechanical clutch actuator that works in tandem with two shift actuators to ‘automatically’ control the manual gearbox. Since the Celerio has been priced reasonably, with the fully loaded Maruti Suzuki Celerio ZXi (manual) priced at Rs 4.73 Lakh and the Maruti Suzuki Celerio VXi (with AMT) priced at Rs 4.83 Lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) the difference in the price between the two is almost negligible. Since many buyers, especially in cities like Mumbai and Delhi have started opting for the higher spec variants, most people do not mind opting for the AMT version instead of the manual purely due to the negligible price difference.



Maruti Suzuki Celerio AMT outsells manual rear



Another pattern that a few dealers pointed out is the fact that most of their customers who have shown interest in the Marui Suzuki Celerio have never bought a new car before and similarly have never driven an automatic car before. The AMT may not be as smooth as a conventional automatic transmission or even a CVT, but to most people who have never driven either, the AMT forms a benchmark of sorts. Most of the Celerio’s target audience are also mainly urban users, which brings us to our next and most important point. 


Maruti’s real masterstroke is not equipping the Celerio with the AMT transmission to attract customers, but successfully advertising the fact that the AMT and manual both give the same fuel economy. In a country obsessed with fuel economy figures over everything else, the Celerio manual and AMT both offer 23.1 kmpl according to ARAI test figures. This means that the average Indian driver or car owner is mentally at peace with the idea of owning or driving an automatic car. 


To wrap it up then, there are quite a few things working in the favour of the Maruti Suzuki Celerio AMT. A price point which is barely higher than a slightly higher spec manual variant, exactly the same fuel efficiency as offered by the manual and of course the ease of clutchless driving. Maruti Suzuki has always had a knack of taking a simple concept and making it a commercial success. The Celerio AMT’s success will soon herald the long awaited acceptance of the automatic transmission in the hearts and minds of the Indian public. With other manufacturers like Tata lining up equipping their products like the Nano and the newly launched Zest and Bolt with AMT gearboxes too, the war of the automatics is just getting started.