Maruti Suzuki Evaluating New Segments For Future Models
One of the major reasons behind Maruti Suzuki‘s dominance in the Indian market has been its selection of segments. It has always tapped volume rich segments with frugal and affordable models. The carmaker which has been commanding over half of India’s auto market share started its journey in 1982 with entry-level models like the iconic Maruti Suzuki 800 and Omni in 1980s and eventually upgraded to higher segments steadily with models like the Zen, WagonR, Swift, Dzire, Baleno and then the Vitara Brezza and Ciaz. Well! Moving forward the company is set to practice the same theory again.
Maruti Suzuki has started to evaluate new market segments where it has sighted strong volumes but is not present with a robust product offensive. The company terms these blank spaces in its product line-up as ‘red spots’ and is evaluating these segments to plan its upcoming models. Speaking with carandbike, Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director – Maruti Suzuki India said, “There are some red spots in the market. Red spots basically are segments where you have products in that category but we don’t have enough products and we don’t do so well. And when you will look at the SUV scenario, there are some red spots. Therefore, we keep examining these segments and in these segments we would like to do better and that’s how we are going to plan going forward. We have to build a portfolio which caters to the entire range of consumer choices. So those are the spots we are trying to identify at the moment.”
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As we mentioned earlier, Maruti Suzuki has a strong market hold in the entry-level A-Segment with models like the Maruti Suzuki Alto, S-Presso and WagonR among others and even in the B-Segment with models like the Swift, Baleno, Dzire and Vitara Brezza among others. One of the segments that the company is evaluating is B+ and entry C segments which is essentially the mid-SUV segment. Now the market has observed an upgradation in this segment of late, especially after the Kia Seltos went on sale in 2019 followed by the new-generation Hyundai Creta and MG Hector. The mid-SUV segment now accounts for almost 4.5 units every year and this is one of the segments Maruti Suzuki is likely to be looking at. Though you may argue that the carmaker already has models like the S-Cross and even Ciaz in B+ and C segments, their sales performance is not at par with the company’s expectations. “In the mid-SUV segment where you have the Creta, Seltos, Hector and Maruti Suzuki has the S-Cross in that segment. The sales of S-Cross have picked up after August when the BS6 model was launched, but it increase in pace is not as per the growth of the segment and we would have liked the S-Cross to do better. The Vitara Brezza is the leading model in the entry-level SUV segment which is about 4.5 lakh units and about 4 lakh is the mid-SUV segment and we would like to increase our sales in the mid-SUV segment,” Srivastava added.
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Now you must have read reports about Maruti Suzuki evaluating the 2019 Vitara and Suzuki Jimny three-door lifestyle SUV for India which could be the fitting models for these segments. While we were the first one to report about the Jimny being under evaluation for India, there is no final word from the company yet. There is still no clarity about a new model based on the Maruti Suzuki Vitara too as it’s a global model. In a bid to launch the Vitara at a competitive price against models like the Kia Seltos and Hyundai Creta in the mid-SUV segment, the company would need to make substantial investments to localise it for our market. The Suzuki Vitara is based on a bigger derivative of the C-Platform and the company would need to setup a new assembly line to manufacture it locally. According to some news reports, Maruti Suzuki is also in talks with its Japanese partner- Toyota to manufacture the Vitara based SUV in its Bidadi plant. That said, the development is likely to take some time as Maruti Suzuki still does not want to take any knee-jerk step with newer offerings without proper evaluation of the segment. Previously, models like the second and third-generation Grand Vitara or the Kizashi mid-size sedan did not work as well for the carmaker in India as compared to other frugal and more economical models in its line-up.