How Suzuki became the only scooter, bike maker to report positive growth last fiscal

At a time when the Indian automotive industry has been badly hit due to multiple reasons, Suzuki shines with positive sales growth. Here’s how it managed to do so along with plans to tackle the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

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Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd is the only two-wheeler manufacturer that managed to report positive sales growth during the last financial year. This is despite the fact that the India two-wheeler industry registered a sales decline of 17.8 percent during FY2020 on a year-on-year basis. Amid all this, Suzuki stood out with a positive sales growth of 2.5 percent in the previous fiscal as it sold a total of 6,85,223 units in FY2020 compared to 6,68,787 units sold during FY2019 (domestic sales). In order to understand what all factors contributed to the positive momentum for Suzuki and how the company plans to adapt to the new normal in terms of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, Express Drives recently interacted with Devashish Handa, Vice-President, Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd. Here’s what he has to say!

Suzuki is the only two-wheeler manufacturer that has reported a positive sales growth in the last fiscal. What factors according to you have contributed to this momentum?

Riding on a positive growth momentum for FY2019-20, we attribute this growth to our dealer partners, customized product offering and the love and trust showcased by our valued customers. Moreover, Suzuki Motorcycle India has introduced various go-to-market initiatives and marketing campaigns to fortify product relevance for our prospective customers. SMIPL maintained upward growth trajectory throughout the year and end the fiscal with 5.7% growth over the last financial year by selling 790,397 units including domestic sales and exports.

With the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown, what has been the impact on the business?

The pandemic has impacted the overall economy and industries across segments have been adversely hit due to this, including the automobile industry. The nationwide shutdown was implemented to fight against the pandemic and ensure the safety of every individual, which disrupted the production, distribution and sales for over more than a month now.

Watch our Suzuki Gixxer 250 video review here:

Once the lockdown is over, how is Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt. Ltd. planning to resume operations and will there be a different sales approach?

Ensuring the implementation of stringent safety norms and social distancing guidelines directed by the Government of India, Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt. Ltd. (SMIPL), the two-wheeler subsidiary of Suzuki Motor Corporation, Japan is gearing up to start production at its manufacturing facility at Kherki Dhaula, Gurugram. However, considering the current scenario it will difficult to mention a particular production start date. We have to accept the new normal way of functioning, continue to practice social distancing and other preventive measures for everyone’s safety. Once we start, initially as a brand our focus will be to infuse enthusiasm and positivity in our workforce and dealer partners to ensure smooth functioning of all departments. At the dealerships’ end, there will be numerous sanitisation processes and precautionary measures while engaging with customers and the staff.

Also Read: Suzuki Access 125 BS6 Road Test Review: The All-Rounder for Everyone!

Some manufacturers have partially begun operations at their production facilities. Is Suzuki also looking forward to that anytime soon? If yes, when can we expect the production to start?

We will update you on the production start date. Right now, we are in the planning stage, where we are charting out a strategy on how we as an organization can ensure safety and security of our workforce and dealer partners. As soon as we start, in the beginning, we will be operating with limited workforce and gradually shift to full force maintaining a healthy work environment for our employees.

How do you expect the market to react once this lockdown lifts up?

The market will go to through a lifestyle, behavioural and operational changes both at business and individual levels for everyone’s safety and wellbeing. Practices such as wearing of masks, social distancing, limited use of shared mobility options etc. will come into force. The limited usage of shared mobility/public transport facilities further fuel the demand for two-wheeler industry as more individuals will shift to personal mobility solutions. The preference for scooters and motorcycles will increase for commuting pertaining to its cost of ownership as compared to a four-wheelers.

A lot of manufacturers are going the online route completely during this lockdown, any similar strategy Suzuki is also working on?

The new normal will be different from the previous one. We already have an option on our official website to find a dealer and book a test drive on a click. I think we can further boost it with the support of our dealer partners and sales team. The idea is to provide an enhanced customer experience digitally.

Will there be any changes in the retail model and how will outlets handle the new normal in terms of the ongoing situation?

Social distancing is the new normal and this will be seen in our business operation as well once we resume work and dealerships are open. There will definitely be certain changes in the vehicle delivery and customer interaction/engagement with huge focus on sanitization and other precautionary measures. The industry is also analyzing appointment-based approach for buying and selling of automobile across segments to ensure safety of our stakeholders including our employees and dealers while we focus on the company’s growth.

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