India's largest passenger vehicle manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki would be looking to introduce two new models within a year, in order to replace their vehicles that are not selling well. Reportedly, this is a new strategy to increase its market share in the Indian auto market.
During 2012-13 fiscal, Maruti Suzuki had a 39 per cent market share of the passenger vehicle market. Interestingly, it is about the same as the 38 per cent share it had in the previous fiscal. However, the number has decreased as compared to 2010-11, when the company occupied 45 per cent of the automobile market.
Among the new launches, the first vehicle, codenamed YL7, would be launched during the 2014 New Delhi Auto Expo. The new car is expected to be developed on the company’s small car platform and would replace the A-Star and the Estilo models. As per sales figures, neither of these vehicles are selling in good numbers. On the other hand, vehicles such as WagonR and the Alto continue to dominate the sales charts over the years, by repeatedly being in the list of top ten Indian selling cars every month.
Sales of small vehicles A-star and Estilo declined by 31 per cent and 35.39 per cent, respectively, in the domestic market last year, as per Mumbai-based brokerage firm Fortune Equity Brokers (India) Limited. Similarly, SX4 sales also went down by 63 per cent as compared to last year.
According to sources, Maruti Suzuki could also be phasing out its mid-size sedan, the SX4 and replace it with a new vehicle created on the same platform. This car, codenamed as YL1, will attempt to revive Maruti Suzuki’s sagging fortunes in the mid-size sedan segment. At present, rivals such as Hyundai Verna Fluidic, Honda City and Volkswagen Vento dominate this segment. The design and the engine specifications of other vehicles are much better than the Maruti Suzuki SX4, which has possibly resulted in its downfall. Another reason could also be that many buyers have preferred to purchase the smaller Swift DZire, in place of the more expensive SX4.
Commenting about Maruti's past and present vehicles, Pradeep Saxena, Executive Director at TNS Automotive, a research and consulting firm, stated, “While (Maruti’s) Esteem was a success as an entry-level sedan, the company’s subsequent attempts to make inroads through Baleno and SX4 didn’t make the cut.” He also said that while Estilo was unable to create the same impression as the previous iconic Zen, Indians do not relate much with the shape and design of the A-star. With the launch of the new models, it seems that Maruti Suzuki would attempt to do things differently and provide more options for the discerning Indian customers.