The Hindustan Times reports that Maruti Udyog Ltd (MUL) chairman S. Nakanishi has said the company would launch several new models in the next five years, and assured the shareholders that fresh investments would be made to upgrade its existing facilities. A diesel car from Maruti stable would roll out by 2006 end, he added.

Addressing the 24th annual general meeting of Maruti, he said, “We are also committed to an ambitious programme for new model launches in the next five years. Fresh investments to upgrade the existing facilities are also part of the plan.”

“The diesel car market has been growing in India in recent years. Suzuki Motor Corporation is known for petrol engine technology and does not manufacture diesel engines. It obtained diesel engine technology largely to meet the requirements of Indian customers,” the MUL chairman said.

He said the diesel engine plant would come up by end of 2006, strengthening Maruti’s leadership in passenger cars. The company plans to make investments in a new car plant and an engine and transmission plant in Manesar, Haryana.

Outlining the company’s strategy, Nakanishi stated, “We believe that the low penetration rate of cars in India presents a tremendous opportunity for growth. Both Suzuki and Maruti believe that India’s car market is at a point of inflexion from where it will achieve a sustained growth in the medium term,” he said.

Maruti’s main competitor in the Indian market, Tata Motors, has enjoyed considerable market success with the diesel engine variant of its Indica model.