Monday, April 6, 2009

Tata's Nano pips Maruti's A-Star in fuel efficiency

Market leader Maruti Suzuki’s unchallenged run as the maker of most fuel-efficient cars in India may have ended with the Automobile Research Association of India testifying that Tata Motors’ small car Nano consumes less fuel than its most frugal models.

The Pune-based agency that tests all cars commercially launched in India has certified that Nano, the cheapest car in the world with a price tag of Rs 1.2 lakh in Delhi, is also the most economical one among the 450 models available in the market with a fuel-efficiency figure of 23.6 km per litre of petrol under standard test conditions.

Maruti Suzuki, which boasts of technology from Japanese parent Suzuki, which owns 54% in the BSE-listed car maker, managed a respectable second spot with its A-Star returning an efficiency figure of 19.6 km per litre.

Maruti’s highest-selling model Alto, which has been the most economical car for more than a decade, was tied at the third spot with Hyundai i10 with an efficiency score of 18.1 km per litre.

Fuel efficiency is the single most important factor influencing customer decisions in India, as fuel charge is the largest component of the operating cost of a vehicle. To cut running cost, auto companies are offering cars that run on alternate fuels such as CNG, LPG and hybrid cars, which lower fuel costs considerably.

Maruti has been credited for launching most efficient petrol cars, while South Korean car maker Hyundai has revolutionised the diesel market by introducing the common rail direct injection technology.

Hyundai’s Verna sedan, which delivers 21.9 kmpl, is the most efficient diesel car ahead of Tata Motors’ Indigo Dicor that returns 21.4 kmpl. Maruti Swift, the largest-selling diesel car in the premium hatchback segment, comes third with a fuel efficiency of 21 kmpl.

For Indian customers, who have multiple choices, buying a new car had been a trial. Now that every car is marketed on the strength of its fuel efficiency, customers are able to make clear choices to keep the fuel costs at bare minimum.

“We have been driving the market by marketing the high fuel efficiency of our cars. Every company is trying to maximise performance by adopting technologies that utilise every drop of fuel to deliver high fuel efficiency,” said a Maruti official, requesting anonymity.

While the Indian market is crowded with over 450 models and cars, it is only the smaller cars that make it to the top fuel-efficiency bracket.

None of the luxury cars figured on the list of most fuel-efficient cars that is dominated by smaller vehicles, though some of them such as Honda’s petrol car City (16.53 kmpl) and Skoda’s Octavia and Laura diesels (16 kmpl) returned excellent fuel-efficiency figures.

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