Suzuki has made 20 million cars in India, and that’s not enough

Way ahead of peers in India.
Way ahead of peers in India.
Image: AP Photo/Manish Swarup
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In December 1983, Maruti Suzuki sold its first car in India. It was the start of a unique experiment between Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corporation and the Indian government, which spawned an automotive behemoth that went on to control over half of the world’s fourth-largest car market.

Thirty-four years on, Maruti Suzuki has reached another landmark: the production of 20 million cars in India.

“India becomes the second country after Japan in which Suzuki has reached this milestone, and the fastest country to reach 20 million units in just 34 years and 5 months since starting production in December 1983, breaking the record of 45 years and 9 months in Japan,” Suzuki said in a statement on June 04.

Suzuki’s journey in India has been as consummate as it has been long. It began in 1981 as a minor partner in Maruti Suzuki, a joint venture where the government initially retained majority control. As the country opened up to other carmakers, both local and global, the government completely exited the company by 2007, while Suzuki’s stake rose to over 56%.

In 2017, it reportedly sold an average of three cars every minute in India, adding up to over 4,300 every day. And even the pace of sales growth, 14% in financial year 2018, was twice that of the industry average.

So, what’s the secret sauce? An unwavering focus on India’s budget-conscious middle-class customers, and an incredibly robust supply chain that keeps costs tight.

Meanwhile, for Suzuki, over half of its global production volumes come from India. Given the importance of this market, the Japanese carmaker is looking to step on the gas to continue its dominance here. It reportedly plans to expand its capacity in the country by 2.5 million cars and has set itself an annual sales target of 5 million vehicles by 2030.