Simply put, affordability and awareness are key factors to increase the penetration of automatic gearbox cars, says Shashank Srivastava, executive director, Marketing & Sales, Maruti Suzuki India.
Even though the car market is muted, Maruti Suzuki India expects the share of automatic gearbox cars rising in India. “Affordability and awareness are key factors to increase the penetration of automatics,” says Shashank Srivastava, executive director, Marketing & Sales, Maruti Suzuki India. In an interview with FE, he adds that the company has sold over 5 lakh cars with automatic transmission since 2014. Excerpts:
What has been the growth in customers opting for automatic gearbox cars in India?
Over the years, there has been an increase in customers buying automatic gearbox cars. At Maruti, we offer multiple transmission options, including manual, AGS (auto gear shift), CVT (continuously variable transmission) and AT (automatic transmission). The AGS (or AMT) is available is seven models—the Alto K10, WagonR, Celerio, Swift, Ignis, Vitara Brezza and Dzire—while the CVT is offered in the Baleno, and the AT is offered in the Ciaz and Ertiga.
Last year, i.e. 2018-19, we sold over 2 lakh cars with the two-pedal, or automatic, transmission. In fact, we have sold over 5 lakh cars with automatic transmission since 2014, at a CAGR of 58%.
Even though the AGS is comparatively cheaper than the AT, it is still more expensive than manual. Is the Indian customer finally paying for more convenience?
Although price is an important factor, it is not the only factor determining a car-purchase decision. Customers evaluate their usage and want value in the products they buy. The AGS, which, for the driver, is similar to the AT, offers a far easier driving experience compared to a manual gearbox car, especially in traffic. Here I must add that the AGS, unlike what is assumed, doesn’t compromise on fuel efficiency. And then there is the affordability factor also—the price difference between an AGS car and a manual gearbox car isn’t too much.
Even though the car market is muted, do you foresee the adoption of automatics rising in India?
With increasing awareness and customers experiencing global brands, we expect the share of automatic gearbox cars to increase. Simply put, affordability and awareness are key factors to increase the penetration of automatic gearbox cars. For instance, we introduced the AGS in the Celerio in 2014, and penetration reached a high 34% in 2018-19.