India's top car maker, Maruti Udyog Ltd., is offering discounts of up to $743 on many of its vehicles to shore up sales, newspaper advertisements at the weekend showed.

Maruti, which has nearly half of India's market for mostly small cars, has said it would be hard to match its record domestic sales of 2006/07 because of firm interest rates that have slowed demand for vehicles.

Maruti, in which Suzuki Motor Corp. owns 54.2 percent, has said it would limit the impact of high interest rates with dealer incentives and customer discounts. It ran a discount offer in June.

The Smile India Smile offer, which runs from August 1-15, offers discounts ranging from 7,000-30,000 rupees ($173-$743) on several models, including its best-selling Alto and the Esteem sedan, the advertisements showed.

The scheme was being offered countrywide, a spokesman said.

Other vehicle makers, including No. 2 car maker Tata Motors Ltd., have scaled back production on the softer demand. A senior banker said on Friday the slowdown would persist until interest rates fell by at least 100-150 basis points.

Maruti, which is seeking shareholder approval to change its name to Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., is trying to shift consumers to bigger, more high-margin cars and launched the SX4 sedan in May and the Grand Vitara sport utility in July.

Maruti has sold 227,578 units in the four months to end-July, up 19 percent from the same period a year earlier.