Billed as the people's car, the Maruti 800, which soon became a hit, completes 25 years tomorrow.
On 14 December 1983, the first Maruti 800, rolled-off the assembly line at company's Gurgaon plant and the keys of the first car were handed over to the first Maruti customer by the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Since then, Maruti has produced and sold around 7.5 million cars, including 2.7 of the peppy Maruti 800 that caught the buyers' fancy, at different price points across segments, with a 54-per cent market share at present. The Swift, SX4 and recent A-star are examples of Maruti Suzuki integrating contemporary technology and designing for the Indian market.
Says Shinzo Nakanishi, managing director and CEO, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, ''The Government of India had entrusted the company a responsibility of building low-cost, fuel-efficient cars for the people of India as also building firm foundation for the modernisation and growth of Indian automobile industry."
The Indian car industry, which was represented by two companies then, was at a volume of 40,000 cars annually. The Maruti-800, symbolising the rising aspirations of the Indian middle-class, completely took over the Indian roads within a few years and ushered in an irrevocable change in consumer prefrence.
Maruti's current efforts mirror the government's plan to make India a global auto hub for small cars.
The government's renewed focus on promoting small cars, today offers a major opportunity to Maruti Suzuki, as Suzuki is acknowledged all over the world for its know-how in producing small cars.
Maruti Suzuki says that its recent investments in two manufacturing facilities will go a long way in establishing the company and India in the global league. These include Maruti Suzuki's fourth car assembly plant and a state of the art diesel engine plant at Manesar, and the fuel-efficient KB-series engine plant at Gurgaon.
The Manesar assembly plant is rated among the best Suzuki plants worldwide. The plant is future ready and is designed to produce world-class vehicles. Maruti Suzuki also expects to scale-up exports and the new Manesar assembly plant will contribute to this effort.
In the 1990's when the economy was being liberalised and foreign investment allowed into India, auto component companies set up by Maruti Suzuki became a benchmark for global car companies as well.
Maruti Suzuki has 225-base vendor base, with and many of them listed on stock exchanges.
Says Nakanishi, "Thanks to the support of our stakeholders, we have successfully led the automobile revolution in India. It is a time for us to thank everyone who helped us in our journey so far. Now, we are positioning India as the global small car manufacturing hub, in line with the government's vision.''