Maruti Suzuki saw its market share in the passenger vehicle segment falling to 42% in 2022, from a high of 51% in 2019, as a result of its lower share in the SUV segment. Hisashi Takeuchi, MD and CEO, told FE’s Swaraj Baggonkar that the company will regain the lost market share in the SUV segment with its two new launches – Jimny and Fronx. The two were unveiled on Thursday at the Auto Expo. Excerpts:
Your market share has been under pressure lately. What is the reason behind it?
Our share in the entry-level car segment is nearly 90%, and in compact cars, it is 70%. India’s PV market has increased because of SUVs and its share in total sales is increasing.
Also read: Auto Expo 2023: Maruti Suzuki
What is your plan to regain the market share?
To achieve a higher overall market share, we need to have a higher market share in the SUV segment, which is where we are focusing. Last year, we launched the full model change of the Brezza and Grand Vitara. We will now have the Fronx and Jimny.
Did you underestimate the growth of the SUV segment?
We will strengthen our SUV portfolio and look at the No. 1 position in this segment. We underestimated the SUV segment’s speed of growth. We have corrected our plans and we have preponed some of those products.
EVs attract a lower tax of 5% and for ICE it is as high as 50%. Should taxation be based on fuels or technology of the vehicle?
Taxation is something the government carefully studies and decides. I am not saying if the taxation is good or bad. That’s something the government has to decide after careful consideration. But if the government supports those different technologies, our policy is that we try to contribute to India and make it a more environmentally-friendly country.
But EV is only one of the technologies you are working on.
Also read: Auto Expo 2023: Maruti Suzuki Fronx SUV revealed; bookings open
EV is a very good solution but at the same time, we also have ICE vehicles. We will employ all possible and potential technologies in order to contribute to India. If the government supports other technologies also, it will be very helpful for us to contribute better.
What is your take on the reception for hybrids in India?
The demand and perception for hybrids in India is very strong. There is a cost aspect also. We are not competing only on hybrids or ethanol or CNG. We are technology-neutral. We understand that hybrids will appeal to only some customers.
A lot has been said about the demand impact on the Budget segment due to inflation?
There is an impact but we should not underestimate the buying power of the Indian consumer. They are now paying a lot more money to buy cars. Some statistics show that 28% of buyers were buying cars priced over Rs 10 lakh, but now our competitors are saying that over 56% are buying cars over Rs 10 lakh. Consumer purchasing power is increasing.
Do you have any plans to electrify the small commercial vehicle?
It is an important segment for us. Electrification for this sector will be required in the future because big cities may introduce some limitations for ICE vehicles. There will be a need for an electric small commercial vehicle for the last mile. We need to watch this space and, if necessary, we should develop an electric vehicle for this segment.