With SUVs dominating Indian auto industry, Maruti has increased focus in this segment
Maruti Suzuki has dominated the Indian car market for several years and currently has around 50% market share. However, the other side of the story is that competition is consistently rising in the Indian automotive space. If we talk specifically about Maruti Suzuki, the company is facing intense competition from Hyundai and Kia. Taken together, the Korean carmakers have managed to garner close to a quarter of car sales in the country.
Maruti Suzuki cannot afford to be complacent, as some of its bestsellers have already been overtaken by new products. For example, Maruti Brezza was beaten by recently launched Kia Sonet in September. Brezza sales have also been impacted by Hyundai Venue.
A similar situation could emerge for Maruti Baleno when next-gen Hyundai i20 is launched. Maruti missed to act on time and the mid-s-sized crossover segment is now ruled by Kia Seltos and Hyundai Creta. Maruti has S-Cross in that segment, but it no where close to the said rivals. In the next few years, Maruti is also likely to face competition from Chinese carmakers.
To maintain its dominance in the Indian car market and neutralize the threat from rival products, Maruti has plans to launch one new product every six months. These new cars will have a price gap of around Rs 45k to 50k, something that will allow the company to target a wide customer base. Here’s a quick overview of the various Maruti cars that are expected to be launched between 2021 till 2023.
1 – Multi-purpose vehicle (Mid-2021)
Maruti already leads in the MPV / MUV segment with Ertiga that has remained a bestseller since a long time. To bolster its position in this space, Maruti had launched XL6 in August last year. XL6 is essentially a premium variant of Ertiga that comes with captain seats in the middle row.
The new MPV that Maruti will launch by mid-2021 will also aim at strengthening the company’s position in this space. Maruti’s new MPV will also appeal to customers who may be looking to try something entirely new. It will be much larger than Ertiga, and could take on the likes of Mahindra Marazzo and Innova Crysta.
2 – Mini Crossover (H1 2022)
This will probably work as a replacement for the current . Once a popular car, sales of Ignis have reduced in recent times. Maruti’s new mini crossover will be developed in association with Toyota, as part of the global alliance between Suzuki and Toyota. Cars like Toyota Glanza and Toyota Urban Cruiser are born out of this alliance. The partnership involves sharing of products and technology, something that helps reduce costs. Maruti’s new crossover could utilize the DNGA platform that stands for Daihatsu New Global Architecture.
Once launched, it could rival the likes of new breed of small crossovers which are soon going to be launched with petrol as well as electric powertrains. These include Tata HBX, Citroen CC21 (codename), and yet to be named car Hyundai.
3 – Compact SUV (New Gen Brezza – H2 2022)
As mentioned earlier, bestseller Maruti Brezza is facing tough competition from Hyundai Venue and recently launched Kia Sonet. Brezza was launched in 2016 and it has been one of the most popular cars in the country. Earlier this year, Brezza had received a mid-life facelift. It is now offered only with a 1.5-litre petrol engine. Next-gen Brezza will come with a range of updates such as new LED headlamps and DRLs, new LED tail lamps, sunroof, larger touchscreen and new alloy wheels. Although new Brezza will continue with the petrol-only strategy, it could get a 48V mild hybrid variant.
4 – Mid-size SUV (H2 2022)
Maruti currently does not have a product that can challenge the supremacy of bestsellers Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos. It will be an uphill task for Maruti to create a formidable rival in the mid-size SUV segment. It is possible that Maruti could use an existing Suzuki product, like Vitara, to take on Creta and Seltos.
Next-gen Suzuki Vitara is expected by January next year in the international market, and the same could be introduced in India to rival Creta and Seltos. As Vitara is a global bestseller, it can work out better in comparison to experimenting with an entirely new product. Next-gen Suzuki Vitara is expected to be equipped with a range of updates and new features.
5 – Made in India Jimny (H1 2023)
Aiming to take on the likes of Mahindra Thar and Force Gurkha, Maruti could launch a made-in-India version of the Jimny. However, there are no clear signs yet, except that Jimny was showcased at 2020 Auto Expo. Earlier, there were talks that Jimny could be launched in a 5-door format in the Indian market. It is worth noting that assembly of Jimny has started in India, but these are meant for global markets. Jimny for domestic market is not expected before 2023.
While Maruti’s new products seem to have potential, the only inherent flaw is in the scheduled timeline of these new cars. Anything beyond 2021 will simply be too uncertain, as it will be quite difficult to predict how market dynamics will play one or two years down the line. Technology and consumer expectations are evolving at a fast pace and it’s difficult to imagine how Maruti will factor in these variables for its new car launches.
It would be interesting to see how customers respond to these new Maruti cars, some of which appear more of a knee-jerk reaction rather than being the result of a proactive product strategy. However, as Maruti enjoys the trust and loyalty of lakhs of customers, it should not have any major worries for at least five years.