Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) plans to protect and enhance its market share in the non-SUV space while expanding its presence in the SUV segment, where it has been lagging behind the competition, as part of a twin-pronged strategy to safeguard its position in the auto sector, as per a senior company official.
The company currently has a market share of 67 percent in the non-SUV space, its highest in two decades, but lacks muscle in the fast-growing SUV segment with an overall market share hovering around 13 percent.
“The objective seems to be clear, we need to protect and enhance market share in the non-SUV segment while capturing more of SUV (share)..it is very simple, clear, and quite obvious goal,” MSI Senior Executive Director (Marketing and Sales) Shashank Srivastava said.
In the SUV segment, the company plans to launch new models, while in the non-SUV space comprising hatchbacks, sedans and vans, it aims to bring in new features, technology, and aggressive design language, he added.
Asked if the company would also look at bringing a brand new entry-level car, he said: “It is a possibility but we have to finalize our plan..we will do anything to protect our market share.”
In the SUV space, MSI is already in the process of taking a slew of measures, including back-to-back product launches to cater to a range of customers across various emerging sub-segments.
Srivastava noted that the company just has two models in the overall SUV segment which currently has around 48 products.
“The real weakness seems to be in the mid-SUV segment where our market share is just around 3 percent,” he added.
The mid-size SUV segment is dominated by models like Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos.
The company is also targeting to once again go past the 50 percent mark in the domestic passenger vehicles segment. Maruti Suzuki ended the last fiscal at around 43 percent market share.
Srivastava said the company, which has just introduced a new version of its compact SUV Brezza, is now gearing up to launch a mid-sized model later this month to strongly challenge the competitors.
In order to prune the deadwood, MSI has also decided to discontinue the S-Cross from the line-up and plans to focus on the new model which is going to be produced by Toyota and feature both mild and strong hybrid technology, he stated.
“We will unveil a pure SUV shortly. It is a 4.3-meter car…if you look at the dimensions, our car would be bigger, wider, and spacious (than Hyundai Creta),” Srivastava said.
The model would come with two powertrains featuring mild hybrid technology developed by Suzuki and a strong hybrid system from Toyota.
“Production will start in August at the Toyota plant in Bidadi, Karnataka and we hope to start selling it sometime in the upcoming festive season,” Srivastava said.
He noted that the model could be a game-changer as it does not require external charging infrastructure and the buyers also do not face range anxiety issues. Besides, the price of the car will not be as high as a pure battery-electric vehicle.
Asked about S-Cross, he stated the model makes “no business sense” with low volumes and thus would be discontinued.
“The mid-SUV segment has grown and now is the third after the entry SUV and premium hatch. So presence is necessary here and we have S-Cross which is not giving us volumes,” he noted.
Elaborating on the entry-level SUV segment, where it sells Brezza, Srivastava said the vertical has become the largest in the entire passenger vehicle space, overtaking premium hatchbacks which dominated the market since 2011.
“Out of 30.68 lakh volumes last year, the entry SUVs’ share stood at 6.52 lakh units. When Brezza was initially launched in 2016, the segment volume stood at around 1.29 lakh units,” he said.
Srivastava noted that despite various companies entering the space, only four models — Nexon, Brezza, Venue, and Sonet — were selling over a lakh units per annum.
He pointed out that there has been a remarkable shift from diesel to petrol cars in the compact SUV segment.
“In 2015-16, diesel used to be 87 percent of the market…Last year this figure was 80 percent petrol and roughly 20 percent diesel,” Srivastava said.
He further said that Brezza has been a market leader in the last five years and it was only in the last financial year that it sold less than Tata Nexon.
“The new version of Brezza should give us greater volume and definitely we are looking forward towards more market share…,” he said, adding that the compact SUV has already received over 50,000 bookings.