When Osamu Suzuki signed on the dotted line in 1982 to partner the Indian government in Maruti Udyog and roll out the country’s first small car, he would have never imagined that 35 years down the line, the venture would be the prized jewel of his business empire.
Today, India has emerged as a bigger market for Suzuki Motor Corporation than its own home market Japan, accounting for more than half of the parent company’s turnover. Also, in the ensuing three decades, the joint venture underwent a sea change — turning from a PSU into a majority-owned multinational as Suzuki happily kept buying out the government's stake even as the subsidiary went public.
The script was playing out perfectly till rising competition caught the leader napping and it began losing market share to nimble-footed foreign rivals. Despite its ubiquitous presence across Indian homes, Maruti found that it was no longer the first choice of Indian car buyers who were now spoilt for choice. After meandering in the initial period of aggressive competition, Maruti regained its mojo as it got quite a few of its launches right — Swift, Dzire, S-Cross, Vitara Brezza and Baleno, to name a few.
As a result, it is now back to the 50% market share mark. To keep the momentum going, the Japanese car major has also revamped its marketing and sales strategy even as it aspires to become the country’s biggest premium car seller rather than live with the moniker of being the country’s most affordable car maker. Can Maruti continue to dominate a market where customer loyalty is a slave to sleek design and technology, is the subject of this issue's cover story Dream Makeover.
Among the other stories in this issue, in Unknown Turf, we take a look at how home-grown Micromax is countering the onslaught of Chinese smartphone makers who have knocked it out from the country’s Top 5 handset brands. In investing, there is a feature, Current Attraction, on what makes Techno Electric an outlier in the EPC business.