'Maruti faces challenge in defending mkt share without SUVs'
New Delhi: With the preference for SUVs and multi-purpose vehicles growing fast in the country, Maruti Suzuki India will face a challenge in increasing or maintaining its market share unless it has substantial presence in the segment, according to the company's outgoing Managing Director and CEO Shinzo Nakanishi.
"The SUVs and multi-purpose vehicles segment has been growing very fast in India but we are not growing there. We need to have a stronger presence there. Having just the Ertiga is not enough," Nakanishi told reporters here.
He said while the company has been focusing on small cars, which it its strength, the competition has been tough and the "challenge for MSI" is to have a bigger presence in the SUV/MPVs segment in order to "increase or maintain its market share".
"We have to bring some more models there," he said without elaborating on the company's plans for launching new products in the segment. In last year's Auto Expo here, the company had showcased a concept of a compact SUV named XA Alpha.
According to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), while passenger car sales in India during the April -February period this fiscal has declined by 4.64 percent to 17,14,796 units as compared to 17,98,155 in the year-ago period, utility vehicles sales have grown by 54.46 percent to 4,99,794 units from 3,23,584 units last fiscal.
Citing another challenge for MSI, he said the company has been pushing for reducing the level of import by its vendors to bring down the overall cost but "it is still slow and we have to discuss with them how to increase the overall levels of localisation".
Nakanishi, who described his first visit to India way back in 1982 "was like coming with a blind eye", was confident that the current slump in the market is temporary and the country will become one of the biggest auto markets in the world.
"At that time I didn't know India... But over the years we have grown here. Yes, the market is slow right now but in the long term, the auto industry and India have a bright future considering the country's economy, expected increase in per capita income and growth of middle class," he said, adding prospects for growth of auto industry in India was brighter even when compared to his home country Japan.
"There (in Japan) the youngsters don't want to buy cars, they use the public transport system more. I hope it doesn't happen here (in India)," he quipped.
Nakanishi, 65, who has been associated with MSI since its inception three decades ago, will retire on April 1 and Kenichi Ayukawa will take over as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.