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Maruti bets on Omni upgrade demand to hardsell Eeco

Bangalore: Auto major Maruti Suzuki is hoping to ride on the demand for an upgraded version of its age-old Omni model to hardsell the Eeco family car, a senior company official said today. "We have seen demand for Eeco growing since its launch last week from users of Omni and new customers looking for a family car, with more space, more leg-room and greater comfort," said C.V. Raman, Maruti's chief general manager for engineering research, design and development. The Omni van was launched in 1985 and sold about a million units over the last 25 years despite competition from multi-utility vehicles. "The demand for swapping an Omni van with Eeco is an encouraging sign for us to pitch for more bookings," Raman told media. "About 30 percent of Omni customers have been exchanging their old vans with newer versions during the last two decades. We see this trend continuing with the launch of Eeco." The company has invested Rs.60 crore (Rs.600 million) to design and develop the five-door Eeco from its Gurgaon plant in Haryana specifically for the Indian market, with over 90 percent localisation. "We have set a target of rolling out 40,000 Eeco units in the first full year of operations (2010-11). This is a unique model designed and developed for Indian customers and keeping in view the road conditions prevailing across the country," Raman said. As in the case of Tata's Indica compact car, though Maruti's Omni has been in use more as a taxi and for commercial purposes, the company is positioning Eeco as a family car with five-seater and seven-seater options. The vehicle is priced at Rs.269,263 for the five-seater and Rs.285,259 for the seven-seater in Bangalore. "Eeco is ELV (end of life for vehicles) compliant and conforms to the latest emission norms (Bharat Stage IV)," the company's regional manager Vivek Anand said on the margins of the new model's launch in Karnataka. ELV norms stipulate that vehicle manufacturers and their material and component suppliers reduce use of hazardous substances when designing vehicles. (IANS)