The country’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) will not only defend its market share but also “charge” at and “chase” competitors in the wake of newcomers, such as Kia and Chinese players, intensifying competition, according to a top company official.
MSI, which had a share of 50.59% in the passenger vehicles market in the April-January period of the current financial year, is not new to competition and will focus not only on new products but enhance its customer relationship in order to maintain its grip in the Indian car market.
“I am not defending, I am charging. We are charging anytime. If they are good products, we try to chase them,” MSI managing director and CEO Kenichi Ayukawa said.
He was responding to a query on how prepared the company was to defend its market share in India as competition heats up with the entry of Kia Motors and MG Motor, and with China’s Great Wall Motors and Haima Automobiles also set to enter the market.
According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), in the April 2019-January 2020 period, Maruti Suzuki sold a total of 12,04,404 units of passenger vehicles, this cornering about 50.59% of the market share. Total PV sales during the period stood at 23,80,699 units.
Stressing that the company is used to competition, Mr. Ayukawa said, “Competition itself is there all the time. In the 1990s, new players came in and so the competition was there. Some new players are coming in. This time, players from Korea and China are coming.”
“We have to develop our product portfolio and manage our business to encourage customers and also set up strong sales and service networks. Through these activities we can maybe compete better,” he added.
When asked if the company would need some more stand-out models, especially in the SUVs segment, Mr. Ayukawa said, “We have to develop new models, but the car business is not only about products. It is also about how you take care of your customers.”
Reiterating the significance of customer relationship, he said, “It is important because we are not only selling, we are taking care of customers after the selling of the vehicle... A customer selects Maruti because of the convenience of having a lot of dealers, sales and service points.”
“We are also ensuring they do not wait long for spare parts if something happens to their cars. These kind of convenient services, they [customers] recognise.”
When asked about the growth outlook for the ongoing financial year, Mr. Ayukawa said only two more months were remaining and “we have already dropped about 18%. That is not easy to recover in this fiscal”.
He, however, added that looking at the market performance after the festive season, there is a little bit of improvement and that is why the company is trying to “encourage” the market further.
The transition to BS-VI from BS-IV is also adding uncertainty as “nobody knows at this point if customers will wait and buy discounted BS-IV model or [go for] BS-VI, which we have already been introduced”.
Commenting on whether the company will have to rethink its exit from diesel models in the BS-VI era, he said MSI has not closed the option and will do a review depending on the market demand and said at present it was difficult to gauge.