Maruti Suzuki India Ltd is the country’s largest automaker, a position that is now threatened by the advent of numerous models coming from Japanese and Korean makers designed to tackle the rising middle-class.
The new Ciaz model – the maker’s first new sedan in no less than seven years – has been designed to tackle a class that proved fruitless so far for the carmaker – the mid size segment. India, the sixth biggest auto market globally, has seen deliveries of mid-size sedan cars steeply drop by almost 23% to just 155,089 units during the last fiscal year. The move was triggered by low consumer confidence as high inflation and higher interest rates kept buyers at bay.
As many executives and analysts predict the car sales would pick up as Asia’s third-biggest economy heads for a revival, Maruti Suzuki and other automakers bet the segment would surge too.
“We have to enhance our quality. Not only with the car, but with our sales,” comments Maruti’s Chief Executive Kenichi Ayukawa. “After three years of slowdown, some signs of growth are visible,” he added.
“It is a competent model but I am not sure of the sales target,” says Anil Sharma, a senior analyst at IHS Automotive.
“There is a lot of learning they have achieved from the SX4,” adds Deepesh Rathore, an analyst at Emerging Markets Automotive Advisors.
Maruti Suzuki aims for sales in between 60,000 and 80,000 units for the new model. The Ciaz follows the footsteps of another model sold by the brand – the SX4 sedan, which has faltered as it faced stiff competition from the likes of Honda’s City or Hyundai’s Verna sedans.