Updated April 4th, 2024 at 14:58 IST

Maruti Suzuki expanding into untapped rural auto market: Shashank Srivastava  

Maruti Suzuki is offering Tier-2, Tier-3 customers 3D immersive experience based on Metaverse.

Reported by: Saqib Malik
Maruti Suzuki aims to increase its existing 45% rural market share | Image:Maruti Suzuki aims to increase its existing MS
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Maruti Suzuki's Tier2, Tier-3 market strategy: After crossing the milestone of achieving three crore cumulative production at its Haryana and Gujarat facilities last week, the country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki is betting big on rural sales. In an exclusive interview with Republic Business, Shashank Srivastava, who was recently entrusted with the role of the Executive Committee Member at Maruti Suzuki said the extensive reach of the carmaker has helped it to claim a lion’s share of India’s rural automobile market. Over the years, Maruti Suzuki built a robust network of sales and service points across the country, for which the company introduced the novel concept of dealership inventory funding, wherein dealers can avail easy bank credit to enhance inventories.  

Network expansion 

As per Srivastava, Maruti Suzuki continues to witness the highest automobile sales in rural India with 45 per cent of its total sales coming from non-urban centres, typically India’s smaller towns and hinterland. “The average sales which the overall auto industry witnesses in rural India are around 33 per cent. Comparatively, out of every 100 cars sold by Maruti Suzuki, sales of 45 are in rural markets,” said Srivastava. 
He said Maruti Suzuki’s ‘Nexa Versa’ concept, which drives technical prowess from Metaverse and offers a 3D immersive experience to prospective car buyers has helped the carmaker to increase sales. “Today, we don’t need to have a physical presence of a customer outlet in a small town as we have led to a huge digitilisation of our sales process. With an immersive 3D  experience, customers get a good touch and feel of the product sitting at home,” said Srivastava. Besides, Maruti Suzuki has been able to achieve digitalisation of car financing to a great extent, he added.  

5-6 new SUV launches 

As per Srivastava, Maruti Suzuki, a company which is known for its small cars is now making strong inroads in India’s SUV and off-roader segments. Commenting on the performance of Maruti Suzuki’s lifestyle category vehicle Jimny, Srivastava said the initial target of the carmaker was to aim its monthly sales between 2,000 to 2,500 units per month. 

“In about ten months of its launch, we are ensuring to get fairly encouraging sales of Jimny but are marginally short of the expected numbers,” added Srivastava.  “There was a huge demand for a two-wheel drive version of Jimny which did not happen. Jimny has also not seen any price revision. So, from our side experiential marketing has been the focus to highlight the off-roading aspect of Jimny,” added Srivastava. 

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Notably, Maruti Suzuki at present sells 47 models across its range of four SUVs including its Vitara, Brezza, Jimny, and Fronx.  “Brezza was the market leader in SUVs even at a time when our market share in this segment was just 11 per cent. FY23-24 has seen us become the top manufacturer of SUVs,” added Srivastava.  

Overall industry 

The recent auto sales data released by car companies has reflected that the auto industry has seen a mixed bag of performance in March, The last month of the FY2023-24 witnessed single-digit sales growth for the overall auto industry, which as per Srivastava is largely on the back of a high base factor and automobile loans yet to see full benefit of interest rates eased earlier. 

“The absolute volumes are good but growth is sticky,” said Srivastava, adding the predominant precursor for sales of a discretionary and high-value product such as a personal car is that apart from disposable income, subconsciously having a positive sentiment is an important factor for purchases,” said Srivastava. 

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Published April 4th, 2024 at 14:57 IST