Maruti Suzuki India Limited is currently facing the heat due to a heavy demand for Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) across the country. With vehicles such as Renault Duster, Mahindra Quanto and other Utility Vehicles (UVs) doing well in the domestic market, outgoing Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shinzo Nakanishi feels that Maruti would find it very hard to maintain a strong foothold. He said, “The SUVs and multi-purpose vehicles segment has been growing very fast in India but we are not growing there. We need to have a stronger presence there. Having just the Ertiga is not enough.” Though the company knows that its strength lies in making small cars, it would be a bit foolish to ignore the fast growing UV segment.
With the help of some statistics, even the Society for Indian Automobile Manufacturers tells a similar story. While passenger car sales from April-February in the current fiscal have gone down by 4.64 per cent against 17,98,155 in the same year-ago period, UV sales have gone up by a whopping 54.46 per cent to 4,99,794 units from 3,23,584 in the previous fiscal. Hopefully, some new models would be seen from Maruti, such as the XA-Alpha compact SUV that was last seen at the 2012 Delhi Auto Expo. Another challenge for the top Indian passenger car manufacturer is also to reduce level of imports by their vendors, with aims of reducing cost and increasing localisation levels. However, Nakanishi feels confident that the current market slump is temporary and Maruti has the wherewithal to come out of it with a bang.
In comparison to Japan where public transport is greatly used, Nakanishi observed that more individuals use personal vehicles in India. He hopes that this situation would favour the likes of Maruti Suzuki in the country. Nakanishi, 65, has been associated with Maruti since it was started almost 30 years ago. He would be retiring from April 1 and Kenichi Ayukawa would be stepping into his shows. Let us hope that Maruti Suzuki is able to reach greater heights under the new leadership.