Maruti Suzuki plans to bump up Celerio production from 6,000 units/month to 7,000 units/month to shorten waiting periods for the hatchback. Currently, waiting periods for the Celerio’s AMT (automated manual transmission) variants stretch up to 6 months, making the hatchback unattractive for automatic car buyers. The high demand for the AMT variants of the Celerio caught Maruti Suzuki unawares as the automaker anticipated lower demand for the automatic version of the car as budget buyers in India typically favour manual gearbox equipped cars.
This buying pattern is based on the higher fuel efficiency that manual gearbox equipped cars offer, when compared with automatic gearbox equipped cars. In case of the Celerio AMT, the variant won big sales due to the AMT version managing a fuel efficiency number similar to that of the manual gearbox equipped car. AMT technology has a big part to play in the higher fuel efficiency as this mechanism essentially automates the clutch action, quite unlike the traditional torque converter, which is power sapping, heavy, expensive and quite complicated in mechanical terms.
Although Maruti Suzuki has enough reserve production capacity at its Manesar factory to increase Celerio output, the car maker is facing supply issues for the automated manual transmission, whose vendor is Fiat group owned Italian auto parts maker Magneti Marelli. Magneti Marelli has not been able to ramp up AMT output quickly enough and the shortage of this component has put Maruti Suzuki on the back foot as far as the production boost of the Celerio is concerned.
In the coming months though, expect production constraints of the AMT mechanism to be sorted out as Maruti Suzuki is contemplating manufacturing the component in India under license from Magneti Marelli. Maruti Suzuki adopted a similar approach with the Fiat Multijet turbo diesel engine, whose demand exceeded supply a few years ago. The Indian automaker began building the 1.3 liter Multijet diesel engine under license from Fiat, apart from additionally sourcing the engine from Fiat’s Indian factory. This strategy could be revisited with the Celerio’s AMT.