“Among all the uncertainties, let me assure you on the product front, Maruti Suzuki will make FY22-23 an exciting year,” Maruti Suzuki CEO Hisashi Takeuchi said on Thursday. “Aiming to bring the joy of mobility to customers, we will continue to bring new models and upgrades in different segments.”
The company will bet on a new range of SUVs, both below and above 4 meters in length, to recover lost market share. It launched the new XL6, a premium multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) priced between Rs 11.29-14.55 lakh (ex-showroom), on Thursday.
An SUV it co-developed with Toyota, codenamed YFG, will take on segment leader Hyundai Creta, while the new Jimny is expected to challenge Mahindra Thar. A planned Baleno-based crossover and facelifts and mid-cycle updates to the Ertiga and WagonR are also in the works.
Takeuchi said that business realities are continually evolving. “You can’t pinpoint what challenges will come next and what impact they will have on our operations,” he said. “I am excited to be in the driver’s seat to lead the company at a time like this. Challenges test the courage and determination of leaders. My team and I will accept these challenges head on.”
While demand for passenger vehicles has been strong in the local market, the industry has faced headwinds from global shortages of semiconductors, high commodity prices and, more recently, supply chain disruption due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Covid-19. 19 curbs in China.
The market leader has particularly faced disruptions to production operations due to inadequate chip availability. Maruti Suzuki’s share of local sales fell to 43.4% in the latest fiscal year, from 47.7% a year earlier.
The company leads the entry SUV segment with a 23% share. However, it has a modest presence in the midsize SUV segment with a share of around 4-5%. This has reduced the company’s overall presence in the country’s fastest growing passenger car category to 12-13%.
However, the company has a commanding 67% market share in non-SUV categories, which is the highest yet, according to Shashank Srivastava, senior executive director of Maruti Suzuki.
Srivastava told ET that the company had an order book of 345,000 units, which was its highest ever, due to high demand and supply issues.
Takeuchi said that Maruti Suzuki has “navigated through good times as well as some challenging situations” and, over the years, has maintained the lead in the domestic market. “We have also gradually strengthened our exports and are taking them to new heights. All of this has been made possible by our continued focus on customers and their aspirations,” he added.