Maruti Suzuki bullish on network expansion, product launches despite Covid-19

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on August 12, 2020

Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director (Marketing and Sales), Maruti Suzuki India   -  Bijoy Ghosh

The long-term story of Indian automobile industry is still very strong: Maruti Suzuki Executive Director

Even as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to take a toll on the automobile sector — with volumes expected to plunge in double digits this year as well — Maruti Suzuki is not deferring its product launches and dealership expansion plans for this fiscal year. There will be no deferment of investment plans, too, said Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director (Marketing and Sales), Maruti Suzuki India.

“Maruti Suzuki is very aggressive in terms of product introduction, and we will continue to follow that path of introducing new products, going forward. We are very positive about the future of the Indian automobile industry, and we do expect volumes to grow in the future. This is a temporary blip that we are seeing (because of Covid-19) — a heavy blip, of course — but that’s because of very unusual and unprecedented circumstances. So, going forward, the long-term story (of the Indian automobile industry) is still very strong... the industry volumes will increase. We believe that the Indian car penetration will also go up and, therefore, there will be a need for expansion of the network (as well),” Srivastava told BusinessLine.

The planned dealership expansion will be across urban and rural areas, he said. Currently, the company has around 3,100 dealerships across India.

Digital network

“Apart from the physical infrastructure, we also now talk of the digital landscape that we should be present in, as a network,” said Srivastava. For instance, the digital enquiries for the company’s cars now constitute 35 per cent of all the enquiries, up from just around 3 per cent in 2016, he saidout. Showroom walk-ins, which used to account for the most number of enquiries, have dwindled due to safety concerns amid Covid-19.

Maruti Suzuki posted total sales of 1,08,064 units in July 2020, a fall of 1.1 per cent over July 2019. However, it marked a growth of 88 per cent over June 2020.

Currently, there seems to be a bounce-back of demand, but it remains to be seen how much of this is the pent-up demand accruing from the lockdown time, said Srivastava. Currently, the demand level at Maruti is 85-90 per cent of the pre-Covid level.

“The expectation is that the demand will bounce back faster in the rural areas.”. Rural areas contribute around 40 per cent to Maruti’s overall sales.

Published on August 12, 2020

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