NEW DELHI: The country’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki said consumer sentiments in the local automobile market will improve gradually, even as it tries to make up for lost volumes in the second half of the year.
Admitting it has been a difficult year for automakers in the country, Maruti Suzuki managing director Kenichi Ayukawa said, “Compared to last year, the market is totally different now. It is very difficult but we have to gradually come up to a high level. We (are) encourage(ing) the market and gradually increasing.”
The company’s sales declined 27% to 553,064 units in the first five months of the ongoing financial year. Ayukawa said demand in the domestic industry last month did pick up over August, but expects consumer sentiments to be better during the festive season in October.
“We hope so (festive season will be better). You have to encourage the customer. Maruti Suzuki launched a new car, that is encouraging,” he said on the sidelines of the global launch of mini sports utility vehicle S-Presso priced between Rs 3.69 and Rs 4.91 lakh (ex-showroom, India).
“S-Presso is our understanding of what the entry-level customer wants…We believe that the current turbulent times are a shortterm challenge. We continue to have confidence in India’s longterm growth story…We are also confident that this car S-Presso will help to change the sentiment of the market. Starting with this festive season, it will re-energise the industry on growth path,” said Ayukawa. The company, along with its vendors, has invested Rs 640 crore to develop the vehicles.
The company did not share sales expectations for the product but said it is prepared to meet market demand. Around 470,000 vehicles were sold in the mini segment (less than 3600 mm in length with engines up to 1litre) last fiscal.
Ayukawa, however, feels that it will be a tall task for the company to grow volumes over last year. “It (growth) is quite difficult. We (will) try to catch up on volumes which is very important for us because demand has been very low in the first five months,” said Ayukawa. Maruti Suzuki grew sales by 5.25% to sell as many as 1.73 million units in the last financial year.
Maruti Suzuki has been taking a series of steps in the past few weeks to revive consumer sentiments. This includes special tieups with banks to ease financing for dealers and consumers, announced price cuts on vehicles after the reduction in corporate tax rates, offered deep discounts and launched new products to boost numbers.