Guwahati: With country's auto sector going through tough phase, the industry is looking towards the North Eastern market that promises good opportunity with major manufacturers expecting growth of up to 50 percent in sales.
Major auto makers Maruti Suzuki, Honda Cars, General Motors India and Toyota Kirloskar Motor are planning to expand their reach in the region that has largely been untapped.
"The North Eastern market is very fertile. I think, the future of this region is very bright.
Opportunities are there for auto makers," Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) Deputy Director General Sugato Sen said.
The rate of owning a car in India is 18 units per 1,000 people and it is even lower in North East (NE), he added.
Expecting a huge growth in the market, the wholly-owned Indian subsidiary of Japanese car major Honda is increasing its focus in the eight states of the region and plans to expand its base aggressively in the coming months.
"The North East market is increasingly gaining significance for Honda as this market has a lot of sales potential for hatchbacks and compact sedans. We are hoping more than 50 percent jump in our sales in the region," Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL) Senior Vice President (Marketing and Sales) Jnaneswar Sen said.
Considering the current industry growth, which is negative since last several months, the NE region is still expected to post a double digit growth, he added.
Sen further said the growth in the NE will be huge due to the fact that the automobile players are increasingly focusing on this market and it currently has a smaller base.
Talking about the company's dealership expansion plans in the region, he said: "In next 18 months, we will be expanding our presence in the entire North East and will have new facilities coming up in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland.
"The company, which opened its first dealership in this region at Guwahati in 2008, is currently present in Guwahati and Dibrugarh in Assam, and Gangtok in Sikkim.
The country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India is also expanding its presence in rural and remote parts of NE as it expects "rapid growth" in the region in the next 3-4 years.
"North East market has always been very important for Maruti Suzuki. We believe that there is a huge opportunity in rural areas of North East, besides the major cities," Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) Chief Operating Officer (Marketing and Sales) Mayank Pareek said.
Currently, this region contributes around 4 percent to the total domestic sales of MSI and it is "significant considering the socio-geographical nature of the region", he added.