Car market leader Maruti Suzuki is racing against time to fill gaps in its product portfolio as the auto major looks to maintain its numero uno position in the world's fifth-largest market for automobiles.
Maruti has identified a few segments where the company feels it needs to expand presence, one of which is the sports utility vehicle (SUV) segment. With only the compact SUV Vitara Brezza in its line-up, the company feels it is underrepresented in the SUV segment.
Maruti would be launching a mid-size SUV on the lines of the segment best-seller Hyundai Creta in 2019. This will open up a market of around 15,000-20,000 per month to the company. Renault Duster, Renault Captur, Mahindra Scorpio, Nissan Terrano, Tata Safari and the Honda BR-V are part of this segment.
Maruti would not be the only company to enter this bustling segment. Kia, Fiat-owned Jeep, Toyota, Tata Motors, MG Motor, Volkswagen and Skoda are also vying for a piece of the pie.
Further, 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. Presently, only the KUV100 from SUV-specialist Mahindra & Mahindra is sold in this segment, clocking volumes of just around 2500 units a month.
Kenichi Ayukawa, managing director, Maruti Suzuki India, told 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.”
Maruti showcased a new concept called Future S at the last month’s Auto Expo. The design is a fusion between an SUV and a hatchback. According to 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," added Ayukawa.
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 expend 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.