Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) plans to protect and improve its market share in the non-SUV space while expanding its presence in the SUV segment, where it has lagged behind the competition, as part of a two-pronged strategy to preserve its position in the automotive sector, according to a senior company official.
The company currently holds a 67% market share in the non-SUV space, its highest in two decades, but lacks muscle in the fast-growing SUV segment with overall market share hovering around 13%.
“The goal seems to be clear, we need to protect and improve market share in the non-SUV segment while capturing more SUVs (share). It’s a very simple, clear and pretty obvious goal,” said MSI Senior Executive Director (Marketing and Sales) Shashank Srivastava told PTI during an interaction.
In the SUV segment, the company plans to launch new models, while in the non-SUV space comprising hatchbacks, hatchbacks and vans, it aims to bring new features, technology and an aggressive design language. , he added.
Asked if the company would also consider bringing in an all-new entry-level car, he said: “It’s a possibility but we need to finalize our plan…we’ll do everything to protect our market share.”
In the SUV space, MSI is already taking a series of steps, including back-to-back product launches to cater to a range of customers in various emerging sub-segments.
Srivastava noted that the company only has two models in the overall SUV segment, which currently has around 48 products.
“The real weakness seems to be in the midsize SUV segment where our market share is only around 3%,” he added.
The mid-size SUV segment is dominated by models like Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos.
The company also aims to surpass the 50% mark again in the domestic passenger vehicle segment. Maruti Suzuki ended the last fiscal year with around 43% market share.
Srivastava said the company, which has just unveiled a new version of its Brezza compact SUV, is now gearing up to launch a mid-size model later this month to give a strong challenge to competitors.
In order to prune the deadwood, MSI has also decided to drop the S-Cross from the lineup and plans to focus on the new model to be produced by Toyota and featuring both mild and strong hybrid technology, a he declared.
“We will unveil a pure SUV shortly. It’s a 4.3 meter car… if you look at the dimensions, our car would be taller, wider and more spacious (than the Hyundai Creta),” Srivastava said.
The model would come with two powertrains featuring mild hybrid technology developed by Suzuki and a powerful hybrid system from Toyota.
“Production will begin in August at Toyota’s plant in Bidadi, Karnataka, and we hope to start selling it during 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 buyers also do not face range anxiety issues. In addition, the price of the car will not be as high as a pure battery electric vehicle.
Asked about S-Cross, he said the model made “no business sense” with low volumes and would therefore be discontinued.
“The midsize SUV segment has grown and is now the third after the entry-level SUV and the high-end hatchback. So presence is needed here and we have the S-Cross which doesn’t give us volumes “, he noted.
Elaborating on the entry-level SUV segment, where it sells Brezza, Srivastava said the upright has become the largest in the entire passenger vehicle space, overtaking the premium sedans that have dominated the market since 2011. .
“Out of 30.68 lakh volumes last year, the entry SUV share stood at 6.52 lakh units. lakh units,” he said.
Srivastava noted that despite various companies entering the space, only four models – Nexon, Brezza, Venue and Sonet – were selling more than a lakh units per year.
He pointed out that there has been a remarkable shift from diesel cars to petrol cars in the compact SUV segment.
“In 2015-2016, diesel accounted for 87% of the market…Last year, that figure was 80% gasoline and about 20% diesel,” Srivastava said.
He further stated that Brezza has been a market leader for the past five years and only in the last fiscal year it undersold Tata Nexon.
“The new version of Brezza should give us greater volume and we are looking forward to more market share…” he said, adding that the compact SUV has already received more than 50,000 bookings.