The multipurpose Maruti Omni has served the Indian audience for more than three decades now. The sliding back door hatchback made its debut in 1984 and since then it has donned many hats for the Indian car lovers. The van was christened ‘Omni’ in 1988. Three decades later the all-rounder in Maruti Suzuki’s product line is all set to be retired. Maruti Suzuki has announced that Omni will be discontinued from October 2020. The decision comes in light of the Bharat New Vehicles Safety Assessment Program (BNVSAP) set to go into effect from October 2020.
The decision was confirmed by R C Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki India. Mr Bhargava said, “There are certain models that cannot be made ready to meet the upcoming safety norms and we will have to discontinue them, Maruti Omni being one of them. The Maruti 800 was a very important model for us but we had to discontinue it, in a similar manner we will also discontinue the Omni.”
BNVSAP reigns on Omni and Others
Experts have time and again raised doubts over Omni’s chances of surviving the BNVSAP crash norms. Omni’s van structure makes it difficult to mould the front and rear sections into crumple into absorbents. Not only Omni, the iconic Eeco Van and standard Alto 800 hatchback might have to face similar faith. Although, Maruti Suzuki claims to be working on an optimal solution for making these cars BNVSAP compliant. Mr Bhargava also confirmed the same. He said, ”It is not that the Eeco and Alto 800 cannot be made ready to meet the safety standards. They will require extensive development and we are trying to ready them for the upcoming safety norms”.
Reportedly, since launch, the Omni has had only two facelifts in the last three decades. Key updates during these facelifts were limited to change in headlamp design and a refurbished dashboard. The Indian Automarket has long been budget driven (especially during the first two decades of Omni’s launch), hence, updating safety standards would have propelled price tag and effected sales. Today, however, the minivan segment has more or less lost its glamour as well as commercial appeal. Hence, Maruti Suzuki’s decision seems to be driven by Omni structural integrity as well as market trends.