First off the block will be a new multi-purpose vehicle which is being co-developed with Toyota - Suzuki's alliance partner. The model will also wear a Toyota badge.
Maruti Suzuki India plans to introduce a slew of new sport utility vehicle (SUVs) models over the next couple of years as it seeks to straddle the segment with multiple product offerings at varied price points, said people aware of the company’s plans.
Starting mid-2021, the car market leader is set to launch five new SUVs - one every six months - till 2023.
“They will have one model at a price gap of Rs 45,000 to Rs 50,000, like they have in the hatchback segment,” said the person quoted earlier.
Maruti’s move is prompted by a rapidly changing buyer preference, said another person.
“We do not give any guidance on future models or technologies,” said a company spokesperson.
First off the block will be a new multi-purpose vehicle being co-developed with Toyota Suzuki’s alliance partner.
The model will also wear a Toyota badge.
This will be followed by the new Vitara Brezza in the first half of 2022.
The second half of 2022 will see the launch of a mid-sized SUV that will rival the Hyundai Creta and Kia Sonet.
A crossover pitted against the Tata Nexon will also go on sale in the second half of 2022.
The first of 2023 will get a Made In India Jimny.
Avik Chattopadhyay, founder, Expereal, a brand consultancy firm, said Maruti’s brand strategy need not be the same as the company’s product strategy.
He further said that while it was fine to have multiple SUVs at different price points, the one above Rs 10 lakh should have a Toyota badging, the one below Rs 10 lakh should have a Suzuki badging.
“It’s important that Maruti plays that game as the Suzuki badging has still not been able to break the Rs 10 lakh-plus price barrier,” said Chattopadhyay.
Amid growing congestion in urban centres, carbuyers in India and globally are showing strong preference for SUVs.
The trend in India, where people primarily look for a high seating position, easy visibility in the front and the rear, an upright stance and high ground clearance in an SUV, is very different from other markets, such as Europe, where there is clear distinction between a crossover and an SUV, said experts.
Of the 48 new model launches that India’s passenger vehicle market has seen since the beginning of the current calendar year, half are SUVs.
The trend has prompted automobile firms to drive in new models, loaded with features at competitive price points.
Maruti that presently sells models including the Vitara Brezza, Ertiga, and S-Cross in the SUV segment, is facing competitive pressures from Korean rivals Hyundai and Kia.
Within a year of driving into the market, Kia — a Hyundai affiliate — has managed to corner 12 per cent of the SUV market and has aggressive plans for the years ahead.
In the first five months of the current financial year, Maruti controlled 24 per cent of the segment, according to Siam.
It dropped 3.7 per cent year-on-year to 23 per cent in September.
“The new models should help the firm make a strong comeback,” said Puneet Gupta, associate director, IHS Markit.
As compared to the cars, the SUVs have remained relatively resilient to the headwinds in the market. In the first five months of the ongoing financial year, passenger car sales have more than halved to 307,539 units, from 673,609 units a year ago.
The fall in numbers for utility vehicles has been lower - it dropped to 221,251 units, from 357,741, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam).