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Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Officer (Marketing and Sales), Maruti Suzuki India
With new models such as Jimny and Fronx in its portfolio, Maruti Suzuki is aiming to double its share of the domestic Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) market to 25 percent during FY 2024, said a senior company executive.
The country’s largest carmaker revealed that out of the 1.707 million units sold in the year ended March 31, it sold 202,800 SUVs like Grand Vitara and Brezza that contributed 12.6 percent of total SUVs sold in the last financial year.
Maruti Suzuki’s confidence stems from the fact that SUVs and Multi Utility Vehicles (MUVs) account for a major chunk of its total pending orders of 380,000 units that had as of end-March 2023.
The highest orders received were for the Ertiga MUV (100,000 units), followed by Grand Vitara midsize SUV (34,000 units), Dzire compact sedan (40,000 units), Jimmy Lifestyle SUV (24,500 bookings) and Fronx Crossover Utility vehicle (16,500 units). Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-fuelled variants made up 121,000 units or 32 percent of its backlog at the end of FY2023.
Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Officer (Marketing and Sales), Maruti Suzuki India, told reporters in a video conference: “Next year we’ll see the full effect of Grand Vitara sales because it was launched in September 2022. Our market share in the SUV segment in the Q4 (FY 2023) was around 17 percent, basically due to better availability of Brezza and Vitara. With the commercial rollout of Fronx and Jimny and the better availability of Brezza and Vitara, we hope to become No 1 in the SUV space also, with about 25 percent of the SUV segment.”
Growing share of SUVs
Maruti Suzuki, citing industry data, revealed that during FY 2018-19, out of 3.377 million passenger vehicles sold in the country, 783,119 SUVs were sold and accounted for 23.2 percent of the entire market. In FY 2022-23, out of the 3.889 passenger vehicles sold in the country, 16,73,488 units were SUVs and that accounted for 43 percent of the total market. According to the carmaker, nearly 1.9 million SUVs are expected to be sold during this financial year.
Now with an overall share of 45 percent in the domestic passenger vehicle market, Maruti Suzuki can raise it to 50 percent+ during FY 2023-24 if it is able to post 35 percent growth in the SUV segment, Srivastava said.
In his view, the SUV segment contributed 43 percent of sales in 2022-23 and that will increase further to 46 percent in 2023-24.
“We expect that the momentum of customer preference for SUVs will continue this year as well,” added Srivastava. He also stated: “In the non-SUV segment our market share is close to 65 percent and with the increased market share in SUV segment, we hope to make some progress this year towards our midterm objective of reaching 50 percent share.”
Hatchback sales decline
Srivastava also noted that the contribution of the hatchback segment had reduced from 46 percent in FY 2016-17 to 35 percent during the last fiscal.
“The disappearance factor (of small cars) is something built in our minds because of this decrease which we have seen in the last few years. Sixty five percent of our population are less than 35 years and 47-48 percent of them are first-time buyers and require personal transportation.”
He acknowledged that the affordability for small car buyers has taken a hit due to higher costs and other factors.
“If their income levels go up, we can hope to make a comeback. But if the affordability factor comes down further, which is possible with the prices increase or the income levels of these consumers don’t increase, then obviously we will see a flattish segment and for next year from the current levels of 1.34 million units.”
Outpacing industry growth
Maruti Suzuki, announcing its sales for FY 2022-23, revealed that it sold a total of 1.966 million units in the year, which is the company’s highest ever total sales (including 259,000 lakh units of exports) despite chip shortages impacting production.
As per its estimates, the overall industry sales last fiscal went up to 3.88 million units, which is an increase of 27 percent from 3.07 million units in 2021-22. It expects total industry sales to rise to 4.5-4.10 million units in the current financial year.
To a question on the company’s overall sales target, Srivastava replied: “While I cannot give out forward-looking numbers, our projected growth would be higher than the industry on back of the growth we are expecting in SUV market. We expect the industry growth to be in the range of 5-7 percent this fiscal. But I won’t say we are gunning for 2 million units (this FY) as it depends a lot on the availability of materials, production and the continued demand.”
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