In a bid to maintain its numero uno position in the Indian car market, automobile giant Maruti Suzuki is running a race against time to fill the gaps in its product portfolio. The company has identified a few segments where it feels the need to expand presence, one of which is the sports utility vehicle (SUV) segment.
Maruti Suzuki currently feels underrepresented in the SUV segment with only the compact SUV Vitara Brezza in its line-up. In order to expand its SUV offerings, Maruti would be launching a mid-size SUV on the lines of the segment best-seller Hyundai Creta in 2019.
The upcoming giant is expected to open up a market of around 15,000-20,000 per month to the company. Some of the existing players of this segment include Renault Duster, Renault Captur, Mahindra Scorpio, Nissan Terrano, Tata Safari and the Honda BR-V.
Apart from Maruti Suzuki, there are a lot of other industry players ready to enter this bustling segment. These include big names like Kia, Fiat-owned Jeep, Toyota, Tata Motors, MG Motor, Volkswagen and Skoda.
Moreover, the maker of Swift and Baleno may not restrict itself to the Vitara Brezza and could look at a vehicle of a smaller dimension that could become a new entry model SUV for its brand. At present, only the KUV100 from SUV-specialist Mahindra & Mahindra is sold in this segment, clocking volumes of just around 2500 units a month.
Managing Director of Maruti Suzuki India, Kenichi Ayukawa said during an interview to Moneycontrol, “Right now we have just one SUV model in our line-up. We should be considering bigger or smaller size SUVs and that is what our homework would be.”
At the last month’s Auto Expo, Maruti showcased a new concept called Future S. The design is a fusion between an SUV and a hatchback. As told by Ayukawa, the company will look to make changes in the concept based on consumer feedback before making a production ready version.
“When we propose this kind (Future S) of concept vehicle we would like to expect customer feedback. Based on the feedback we have to modify some things or add some features. It takes time when changes have to be made to the concept. For instance, we showcased the Vitara Brezza (concept) in 2010 but the real product came only in 2016. It takes time,” Ayukawa said.
Maruti is aiming to hit 2.25 million units capacity by 2020 including a second new plant in Gujarat at the existing facility. The company had committed multiple launches till 2020 including a series of upgrades and new product launches.
“We already have a product portfolio and we want to be the market leaders in these segments so we can expand our business with them. There are some segments which are not covered by our portfolio. We have to study which products are expected by the customer, how much is the volume there. Based on that we have to decide our priority,” Ayukawa added.