With dent in Marutis production, auto makers planning to play bullish on Indian auto market

Thursday 26 July 2012, 11:59 AM by

The largest car exporter of the country, Hyundai, has clearly stated to its official distributors to ‘push’ and ‘increase’ the sales of their iconic hatchback i20, following the dent in the reputation of their stiff competitor, Maruti Suzuki. Owing to the lockout clouds surrounding the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), the waiting period of the company’s legendary models, Swift and DZire, have further increased, providing a golden opportunity to other players of the industry.

Just after two days of the strike at Maruti’s Manesar facility, the second largest auto maker of the country issued a statement to its few pioneer dealers mentioning the outbreak at their rival’s production unit. The headquarters of South Korean auto maker asked its dealers to put emphasis on the sales of Hyundai i20 hatchback and Verna sedan.

A hurdle that Maruti now faces is that its bestsellers Swift and DZire are only manufactured at the Manesar plant, which is presently not operational owing to the recent unrest. Before the clash at company’s unit, Swift was rejoicing with a waiting list of 55,000 units, whereas DZire was jumping on around 65,000 units. The waiting period for these was around five months, but this was before the fiasco. Now, there is no clear deadline as to when customers will get the delivery of their vehicles.

With a communication with Times of India, Hyundai said “With the happening of recent violent activities in our competitor's manufacturing unit, there would be shortage in supply of Swift and DZire in the coming days. This presents us with a chance to increase our volumes in i20 petrol and diesel cars.” The auto maker said that its dealers should individually reach out to several potential buyers to be benefited from the circumstances. The communication further stated, “Telecall and sms all prospective customers (all walk-ins and other customers of last three months) and push the available trims in i20 (Magna option) in diesel and other petrol trims.”

When asked about the same, the spokesperson of the company said, “Hyundai India has annual sales plans for all its models. Hyundai has been successfully selling i20 and Verna in their respective segments and there are no changes in the sales plan for these models in the current market scenario arising out of this situation.”

Auto makers like Ford and Skoda are also planning to bet high on the Indian auto market, following with the shortage of MSIL’s main models. The completely owned subsidiary of Volkswagen expressed its consent that their Fabia hatchback might also take the advantage, owing to the unwanted situations faced by the Maruti Suzuki.

On the present circumstances, Sudhir Rao, Managing Director, Skoda India quoted, “First of all, I would say that this is an unfortunate occurrence at Maruti. Yes, I suspect that to some extent, some impact on Maruti's sales could be there as Swift and DZire buyers look for other brands in the short run.”

Adding to the statement of Rao, the Executive Director of Ford India, Nigel Wark commented, “There are some customers who do not want to wait and could go for other brands. But we will not specifically go after them.”

On one hand, the competitors of MSIL are eyeing the dominant share of the auto maker in India; the company said that it will move with a positive outlook in the current fiscal while maintaining the pace of its long waiting periods. On this, Mayank Pareek, Managing Executive Officer (Sales and Marketing), Maruti Suzuki India, quoted, “We are confident about our products. Even during the strikes last year when the production of Swift and DZire was impacted, there was not much of a flight from our stable.”

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