Suzuki Motor Corp.’s Indian subsidiary is exploring opportunities in newer segments of the passenger vehicle market to cater to the changing needs of local customers as it seeks to maintain its leadership position in the country, the company said.
While launching on Friday its premium urban compact car Ignis, designed mainly for buyers aged 18 to 35, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. said its entry in the newer vehicle categories in the past few months is helping gain new customers.
As part of Suzuki’s mid-term management plan, the company has committed 20 new models, with 15 of them to be launched in India in the five years up to 2020, said Kenichi Ayukawa, managing director and CEO of Maruti Suzuki, which has a strong presence mainly in India’s small car segment.
“In the last 36 months, we have introduced four new models…in newer segments such as premium sedans, hatchbacks and utility vehicles where Maruti Suzuki was not the leader,” he said. “With these launches, we have been able to attract new categories of customers who were earlier not considering us.”
“We are aware that the priorities of our customers are fast evolving. If we have to keep pace, we must demolish traditional categories and think afresh. It is critical that we should be ready for the future,” Ayukawa said.
R.S. Kalsi, executive officer for marketing and sales at Maruti Suzuki, said that with the Ignis brand launch, the company is mainly targeting tech-savvy young Indian buyers, or millennials, who have emerged as one of the primary drivers of car demand in the country.
“Car purchases in India by the millennials have grown by over 22 percent in the last six years. To respond to this demand, we have launched this car which is exclusively made for the millennials,” he said. “So, it’s a new category that we have created. We expect that the model will help us expand our market share in the passenger car segment which currently stands at around 47 percent.”
Along with its suppliers, Maruti Suzuki has invested over 9.5 billion rupees ($143 million) in the development of Ignis, which comes with 98.5 percent localization, according to the company.
Abdul Majeed, partner and chief automotive industry analyst at consultancy firm PwC India, said automakers in India are targeting young buyers who have now become a key customer segment in the passenger car market due to their increased disposable income.
“With around 65 percent of India’stotal 1.3 billion population under the age of 35, this represents a huge opportunity for carmakers in India,” he told NNA.