decline in European market. “Last year we had a total export of 1.27 lakh units. This year we may be a little less than that because of the slowdown in Europe, which used to be our biggest overseas market."
MSI has been exploring new markets to keep its overseas sales momentum, Nakanishi said. Bhargava added: “I don’t know when the European market will revive but we have been entering new markets like Algeria, which is one of our biggest now and we expect to sell around 25,000 units there."
The company has also been exporting both completely built units and completely knocked down units to Indonesia, amounting to about 40,000 units.
On the Sri Lankan market, Bhargava said sales have fallen by almost 50% this year due to the increase in import tariffs by the government there.
Asked whether the company would look to set up assembly operations overseas, he said: “It is possible in the course of next few years that we have overseas assembly operations in the markets where we are looking.”
These overseas assembly plants could be run by Maruti directly and not by Suzuki Motor Corp, he said, adding, however, that “at the moment there are no such plans to set up assembly operations anywhere”.
On the company’s plans to enter premium segment of Indian passenger car market, Bhargava said: “Maruti and Suzuki Motor grew and became profitable on the basis of small cars. Small cars in India is going to be a big segment in future also. MSI has the image that it is first class small car maker and I would try to protect that image.”
He also ruled out MSI diversifying into the commercial vehicle segment.
Asked about the progress at the violence-hit Manesar plant, Bhargava said the production has reached normal level of about 1,900 units per day. When asked if the company would reconsider to take back some of the workers that were fired after the violence in, he replied in the negative.