Maruti Suzuki India (MSI), the country's largest car maker, needs to bolster its presence in the fast-growing SUV segment in order to maintain its dominance in the domestic passenger vehicle segment going ahead, according to a senior company official.
The automaker, whose market share in the 30-lakh-strong (volume) domestic passenger vehicle segment has come down to 45 per cent this year from 48 per cent last year, is looking to fill gaps in the various sub-segments that have emerged in the SUV space in the past few years.
In an interaction with PTI, MSI Senior Executive Director (Marketing and Sales) Shashank Srivastava said if the company needs to attain its overall objectives in the market, it has to do well in the SUV segment.
He noted that in the non-SUV segments, the company's market share has been going up in the past five years and it is only in certain SUV sub-segments where it was lagging behind the competition.
"Therefore, we are looking to strengthen our SUV portfolio... In the industry right now, there are 46 brands in the SUV segment. We have two Brezza and S-Cross...
"Brezza is the market leader in the entry SUV space... So, obviously, it means that even if you have a best seller like Brezza in the largest segment...our market share in the SUV segment is low. It means our portfolio needs strengthening and that is what we hope to do going forward," Srivastava stated.
He noted that the auto major has been able to dominate the PV segment for the past 20 years despite an increase in the competition with entry of various new players.
"So, why is it that the overall market share of Maruti Suzuki this year has come down? The reason is that the SUV segment has grown much faster. Today, it is 38 per cent of the industry whereas it was 32 per cent last year. So, obviously it has an impact on us," he stated.
Elaborating further, Srivastava noted that various sub-segments have emerged in the SUV space that have been growing at a robust pace.
"There is a lifestyle segment, there is an entry SUV, mid-size SUV and the high-end SUV..sub-segments have emerged and each segment is now large enough to get interested in, except the premium SUV that is less than one per cent of the market.
"And, if somebody has to maintain the Maruti kind of the dominant market share, we need to look at all segments going forward," he added.
When asked to elaborate on the company's product plans to fill large gaps in its SUV portfolio, Srivastava declined to comment but added that the company is working towards enhancing its presence.
When asked if the company is looking at launching new models through its premium sales network Nexa, Srivastava said, "There will be several launches through the network."
On the company's production outlook, he said there has been a gradual improvement in the last few months but noted that it would be difficult to predict when the company would be able to reach 100 per cent output.
"As far as production is concerned, in October, it was 60 per cent; November was 83 per cent; December was 90 per cent; while in January, it was around 90-93 per cent.
"So, it is getting better, but still not 100 per cent.. We have announced that it will not be 100 per cent in this quarter and also... So, 100 per cent is a little difficult to predict at the moment because the global supply chain is quite complex," Srivastava said.
He noted that the demand remained robust and the industry was expected to cross the 30 lakh sales volume mark in the current fiscal.
Srivastava noted that the automaker continues to witness an increase in the contribution of rural sales in its overall volumes.
He also expressed hope to soon witness a bounce back in urban regions as well.
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