Maruti Suzuki unveils global models at Auto Expo 2014
Maruti Suzuki India Limited unveiled global models Concept Ciaz and SX4 S-Cross on Wednesday at Auto Expo 2014 to enhance its position in the bigger sedan segment and boost its sales in the face of growing foreign competition.
Foreign companies showing cars at the Delhi auto show, starting on Wednesday, have already poured billions of dollars into factories, product development and marketing in India's once-booming car market.
Maruti, founded in Gurgaon, outside New Delhi in 1982, accounts for nearly one in two new cars sold in India.
Though it has drawn on the small-car knowhow of Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp, its majority shareholder, Maruti, is seen as so home-grown that in the 1980s, the word "Maruti" was used generically to mean any car.
The executive vice president, Suzuki Motor Corporation, Toshihiro Suzuki, said new models have been designed to meet the varied requirements of discerning customers around the world.
"In 2004, we launched our first global third model, the Iconic Swift. The two cars that we are unveiling today are following the same footsteps. They are models designed to meet the varied requirements of discerning customers around the world," said Suzuki.
The new modes designed by the company aimed to meet the growing demand of sedans in India, China and elsewhere.
The company had registered sales of around 10.6 lakh units in the domestic market in 2012-13.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Maruti Suzuki India Limited, Kenichi Ayukawa said that the company has sold 12 million vehicles but it covered only one per cent of the country.
"In these three decades, we have made and sold over 12 million vehicles and yet we have covered only one percent of this country. Our journey has just only begun. There is other 99 percent of India that we have to reach out to," said Ayukawa.
As economic torpor suffocates the demand for new cars in India's megacities, incomes are growing faster in small towns and country areas.
Standing firmly in the way are strong home-grown brands. With local services plentiful and repairs cheap, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, and Tata Motors Ltd dominate the rural vehicle market where foreign automakers are seen as expensive and distant.
Ayukawa also said that the company aimed to reach out to more villages this year.
"We have grown impressively in rural sales. We will touch 100, 000 villages this year but there is another half million to go. We will set up our sales network to reach out to these areas," Ayukawa also said.
On narrow rural roads, Suzuki's inexpensive small cars jostle for space with Mahindra's sturdy utility vehicles, tractors, motorbikes and bullock carts, with foreign models scarce. Spare parts, including fakes, are cheap and ubiquitous, and mechanics everywhere can fix a Maruti, keeping maintenance costs down.
Maruti's deep rural penetration has helped it defend its market share amid the industry's two-year downturn. That's despite the onslaught of new models launched by foreign rivals.
Car makers see success in rural areas as vital, as slow economic growth, high interest rates and rising fuel prices mean overall sales are headed for their second straight year of decline. Though the need for rural sales has been recognised, success could yet prove illusory.
India's is the sixth largest car market, pertaining to its emerging middle class and large population.
Small cars are top sellers in a country where most people prefer to drive cheaper, fuel-efficient compact cars as roads are clogged with traffic and parking in big cities is hard to come by.
(Posted on 06-02-2014)