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MORE CHOICES THAN EVER: The car market is bursting at the seams with new cars. Car loan rates are at their lowest ever. And auto firms are falling over each other to entice the customer.

This is probably the best time to get behind your dream set of wheels.

From the low-cost Maruti 800 to the staggeringly expensive Maybach, Indians now have plenty of options to choose from, depending upon their budget.

The year 2003 has been spectacular for the Indian automobile industry. With a spate of new launches, leading carmakers lured the customers in a big way.

An 8 per cent excise duty cut in the Union Budget helped car manufacturers slash prices. Only for a while, though. The upbeat mood in the economy and the bountiful monsoon enabled the major players to add volumes significantly.

The domestic car sales registered a 25.9 per cent increase in April-November to 433,840 units. The industry sells around 600,000 passenger vehicles a year.

Some of the major international players have plans to launch their products in India next year. Let us check out what 2003 meant for the auto sector and what may be in store in 2004..

Images from CII's Auto Expo held in 2002. The 7th expo will be held in New Delhi from January 15-20, 2004.

Photograph: CII website

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Also see: India's most expensive cars

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