Committed to small cars, says Maruti chairman

Maruti Suzuki India has no plans to exit the small car segment as it continues to be a viable business, chairman RC Bhargava told FE.

Maruti Suzuki India, the country’s largest passenger car manufacturer, has no plans to exit the small car segment as it continues to be a viable business, chairman RC Bhargava told FE. He said the company remains committed to the customers of these vehicles.

Bhargava pointed out that Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari has already said that providing a minimum of six airbags for enhanced safety of occupants will only be mandatory for vehicles that can carry up to eight passengers. “This means that the entry-level cars and hatchbacks are out of the purview of this proposed regulation. Whenever the same is notified, it would not affect Maruti in any way,” Bhargava said.

Entry-level and premium hatchbacks, as well as compact sports utility vehicles (SUVs), are five-seater vehicles.

From January this year, dual airbags have been made mandatory in all passenger vehicles. The six-airbags norm for eight-seater vehicles has still not been notified.

Bhargava said that though the small car segment has seen a decline in the last three years, it still has a market share of around 40 per cent.

The general concern of the industry ever since the talks of enhanced safety measures in cars started was that it would lead to a rise in the prices of entry-level cars, which would become unaffordable for the large masses.

Maruti’s domestic sales of Alto and S-Presso stood at 211,762 units in FY22 against 368,990 in FY19. Sales of compact segment cars such as Baleno, Celerio, Dzire, Ignis, Swift and WagonR stood at 704,881 units in FY22 against 871,864 in FY19. The overall industry sales of hatchbacks in FY22 stood at 37.5 per cent against 46.5 per cent in FY20.

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