Maruti beats rivals in Utility Vehicles, Vans race too

MUMBAI: India’s most favourite carmaker has achieved yet another feat. Maruti Suzuki is now not just the leader in the car market — it leads the utility vehicles and vans segments as well. One company leading all the key segments of an automobile market is a rarity, with the only exception among similar-sized markets being Hyundai Motor in South Korea.

In the first six months of 2017, the company, the largest and most profitable unit of Japan’s Suzuki Motor, outperformed the Indian automobile market in both production and sales growth as it climbed further up at the top of the Indian automobile market. Domestic sales grew at 14% in the January-June period, compared with 8% for the market.

Production expanded at a much quicker 18%, almost double the pace the industry recorded. Maruti Suzuki has for long been selling one in every two cars in India.

Its entry into the SUV space and the runaway success of the compact Vitara Breeza, has now transformed it into an automaker that accounts for half the personal, or passenger, vehicles that hit the Indian roads. Its current passenger vehicle market share of 49.6% is the highest ever for the first six months of a calendar year.

“Our efforts in the field to connect with customers and manage shortterm uncertainties have borne fruit,” said RS Kalsi, the senior executive director for marketing and sales. On its success mantra, he said: “As the market leader, we have a responsibility to create new segments, enhance customer experience, expand the network and step up service efforts. In recent years, we have successfully launched models in newer segments, where we were either absent or had limited presence.”

Brezza, for instance, has emerged the leader in the utility vehicle segment. Elsewhere, the Ciaz has established leadership in the premium sedan space and the Baleno in the premium compact segment. “Therefore, growth looks mathematically skewed towards a few segments,” Kalsi said. But overall, the January-June growth is in line with the company’s own expectations.

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