When Maruti was still in nascent stages as a Public Sector company, they needed to make a decision, one that could potentially change the face of the Indian automotive market. They needed to pick two products out of Suzuki’s portfolio for manufacture and sale in India. But how? India had at the time two major manufacturers, with a total of three cars in their portfolio. The Hindustan Motors Ambassador, the Hindustan Motors Contessa (which was considered a rich man's car) and the rebadged Fiat or the Premier Padmini. With a sample size this small, it was impossible to constitute a study. What they did instead was to conduct a physical study literally by talking directly to potential customers across the country to get a pulse of what the market of not what the market wanted but what it needed. The result was two products that changed the tide of the Indian automotive industry, the Maruti 800 or the Suzuki Fronte and the Maruti Omni or the Suzuki Carry. These would ultimately strike the death knell for the likes of the Premier Padmini and the HM Ambassador.
Skip forward to 2017 almost half a century in the future, and the Indian automotive industry has found itself on the precipice of another staggering paradigm shift. As the world looks to finally close the chapter on fossil fuels and look to alternative fuels and electricity as the fuel of the future. The question is, that today Maruti Suzuki, who is currently a market leader with a staggering market presence and a large number of cars in their portfolio, is faced with the question of what kind of electric products they will bring to the table when the time for the shift comes. In a recent year end meeting, Maruti Suzuki’s Chairman R C Bhargava said that they have a roadmap already prepared and it will focus more on the consumer than on the government mandate. How? you ask. Well, it's the exact same strategy that Maruti employed all those years ago. It will get on the road, and talk to the consumer. How they will use this new generation of an automobile, where they will use them and what they expect from them will be measured. The survey will begin in January and will continue for 6-weeks across the country. Giving a fair idea to the company of the road forward by end of February 2018.
That aside Maruti will also be drawing from their parent's partnership with Toyota in Japan which will study and provide a road forward in terms of an electric car eco-system that will work in India and the requirement and costs involved in achieving such. Both sets of data in place Maruti can then fully plan their road forward to electric cars in India. Leading to the first car all-electric Maruti which will hit the roads in 2020.
The question then remains, like the Maruti 800 was once heralded as the people's car could this new electric be the first people's electric car?