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[NEW DELHI] Volkswagen AG will begin sales of a compact sedan developed especially for India as part of its plan to gain ground in a market dominated by its former partner Suzuki Motor Corp.
The Ameo, which will come in 1.2-liter gasoline and 1.5- liter diesel-engine options, will go on sale in the second half of this year, Michael Mayer, a director of Volkswagen Passenger Cars India, told reporters in New Delhi on Tuesday. The model will have cruise control and rain-sensing wipers, and offer airbags for both driver and front passenger-seat as standard features.
VW plans to introduce the Ameo and three other new models in India in the year through March 2017, after unwinding its alliance with Suzuki, whose majority-owned unit accounted for 47 per cent of passenger-vehicle sales. The country is forecast by IHS Automotive to become the world's third-biggest auto market by 2019 behind China and the US.
Deliveries of compact sedans and hatchbacks climbed 15 per cent in the April-December period, compared with the 9.1 per cent growth in overall passenger-vehicle sales, as carmakers lure first-time Indian buyers and those upgrading from minicars.
"This is a segment that grows in double digits and still hasn't had a Volkswagen offer," Mr Mayer said. "We have high hopes and this is going to change the game for us." VW, which ranks ninth in market share in India, has seen its deliveries decline 5.7 per cent to 30,998 units in the April- to-December period, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.