BUSINESS

Suzuki sees TVS Motor as main competitor

SUZUKI MOTOR Corporation (SMC) and Venu Srinivasan-led TVS Group may have parted company. But the separation seems to be still working on the mind of the erstwhile foreign partner in the former joint venture TVS Suzuki Ltd. (now TVS Motor).

SMC, which is now entering the Indian two-wheeler segment independently, has sort of identified TVS Motor as its principal competitor. In a chat with the visiting Indian newspersons at Hamamatsu in Japan, Shinzo Nakanishi, Managing Director, had on more than one occasion indicated that their target would be TVS Motor. Suzuki would aim to match the production and sales of TVS. "Otherwise, there is no meaning for the divorce,'' he asserted.

Suzuki is currently waiting for the `cooling off' period post-separation to end to launch head-on into the Indian two-wheeler market. The cooling-off period ends in April 2004.

Mr. Nakanishi indicated that the SMC joint venture with Integra Group would go on stream in the autumn of 2005.While declining to divulge the capacity of the proposed plant, he said the initial Suzuki investment in the venture would be around $10 million. To a question, he said, the joint venture would focus on producing products in the growing segments (100cc to 150cc four-stroke vehicles). Suzuki had picked the plant location in Haryana in view of the fact that Maruti Udyog had already established a large vendor base around that place.

Mr. Nakanishi said Integra would function only as a facilitator for Suzuki to get into the two-wheeler business. "It will be a gate for us. We will buy them out over a period,'' he added. Asked to comment on TVS Motor's proposal to enter the Southeast Asian market, Mr. Nakanishi was guarded but did not mince words. "We will fight them out there as well,'' he asserted. The market in Southeast Asia was competitive, he said. And, Suzuki had presence in countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

KTJ

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