In Delhi, from taxi operators to school cabs to delivery vans of DHL/BlueDart, everyone ply with the Eeco. WagenClub shifts to “Drive” mode to find out why.
Stop laughing! Maruti Suzuki Eeco Van isn’t that demeaning a car to write about. As a newcomer to the national capital, one of the car that caught my thinking was the Eeco or the old Versa. Omni Vans too. The reason was surely not because I love the car’s looks or affordability or whatever. But only the way Delhites live with it. From taxi operators to private school cabs to parcel delivery services like DHL or BlueDart, everyone ply with the Eeco. As a passenger car moving people to their schools and offices and as good carrier in its ‘Cargo’ version, the Maruti’s cheapest van does wonders, flooding the streets of Delhi. Don’t you want to know why?? I certainly wanted to. Then understood some simple reasons and correlations.
#5. No good alternatives
Ok, lets start from the periphery. Tell me good alternatives for the Eeco. You may stumble, but there are some good ones too – Tata Ace/ Magic, Venture, Winger, Mahindra Maximo, etc. – but all are hard Diesels and little costlier than the Eeco. Bigger in size too. Now in Delhi, the magic norm remains to be CNG for city mobility – either for personal or commercial use, for frugality or environment sensitivity. So anyway the car is going to be factory fitted with or converted to CNG, why spend more bucks for a Diesel?? Here is the cheapest Eeco, so people go for it.
#4. The “Maruti” factor
Yeah, this is the privileged that every MSL cars enjoy even today at some levels. Especially, this factor operates more fiercely at the psychological level of our common Indian customers. You go ask any, you are sure to get a response like this one – “Maruti a trouble-free, low maintenance, best customer service, blah blah.. brand in the world (or universe/ multiverse, etc.!!!)” But sarcasm doesn’t make it absolutely absurd either. From a commercial use point of view, vast service networks and options, open-market spares availability (are cheap too), and easy to repair are nothing but bonanza. All these reflects on their exceptional resale values as well.
#3. Narrow streets; Eeco is zippy!
Have you ever been to old Delhi area? Or any other places in and around the city? If no, please do visit someday. Only then you can understand the problem here. Those centuries old street lanes amid tight packed building have to deal with hell lot of things – cars parked on both the sides of the lane (occupying almost the whole!), two wheelers, dustbins, children playing, community or home fiestas extending well beyond their respective doors, and many things that I weirdly keep exploring everyday! Lanes are cumbersome in most of the commercial and residential areas. Private cars have no spaces for parking, and so they come to the roads in front homes. I often think those cars parked public actually outnumber the total residents; and ask to myself how the scene would be at some era, when everyone can actually afford a car of their own!
A vehicle, that is destined to ply in such a complex urban setup, services like cabs and delivery who would round the locality twice or thrice a day, have to deal with all those said above. Large vehicles will positively find some problems to make swift services. Eeco is advantageous in this respect with much more flexibility.
It’s basically a tiny van – lengthy, not wide, tall, high driving position with a brief hood (=better maneuverability at tight spots and narrow streets), sliding side and hatching rear doors (=easy people/ good movement) – available as a 5-seater/ 7-seater and as a cargo variant with a large cargo bay instead of rear seats. But the best part actually is the Eeco’s car-like driving traits and its peppy 1.2l engine with low NVH (Noise-Vibration-Harshness) levels and trouble-free maintenance. Compare this with the hard diesels like the Magic or the costlier Venture, and so people prefer Eeco.
#1 Its Petrol CNG
This is indeed the most influencing factor that deflects in favour of the Eeco. Delhi NCR enjoys subsidised CNG and also has one of the lowest CNG prices all over the nation. The CNG has a two-fold advantages – it can be endorsed for both Petrol and Diesel engines and low running and maintenance costs. It makes more sense to hold on to CNG, not just for commercial use but also for personal.
This is exactly why the Maruti Suzuki Eeco lose out to some of the diesel vans like the Tata Venture or modified Ace/ Magic in the South Indian cities especially Chennai and Bangalore, where CNG is out of reach. Since prices of Auto LPG is also not that cheap comparing to the running costs of petrol, very less people switch to it. And so, they turn down the idea of a petrol car for commercial use.
Another plus with Eeco-CNG combo is the fuel efficiency. While average mileage of the car in petrol is around 14 kmpl (according to CarWale), the CNG mileage is thrifty at 17.5 km per Kg. 1 Kg CNG costs around ₹ 39 in Delhi, which gives an edge over the running costs of Petrol.
#”N” for Neutral
Delhi isn’t the only city where Maruti Suzuki Eeco is famous, the van have plenty number of takers in other metros and even in semi-urban areas as well. But the CNG factor is a big one, that gives Delhi an edge over other metros and cities. In Chennai and Bangalore, the segment is dominated by the Eeco’s Diesel rivals and a strong correlation can be made to the non-availability of a cheaper fuel as Delhi. With MSL working on a Diesel motor for the car and with the availability of CNG as an alternative fuel in South Indian cities in a couple of years, things are bound to change. Indeed, the Maruti Suzuki Eeco, being one of the cheapest cars in India, is a potent urban mover.
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