Maruti set to beat Mahindra at its own SUV game for fiscal 2018
17 March 2018
Maruti Suzuki is set to emerge as India’s top utility vehicle maker for fiscal 2018, having already run up a lead that looks unassailable by long-time market leader Mahindra & Mahindra, according to an Economic Times report.
With just a month’s sales data to be known for the fiscal year, the local unit of Japan’s Suzuki Motor has a lead of about 21,700 units, equal to the home-grown Mahindra’s average monthly volume.
The past five years have seen contrasting performances from two of the country’s most visible automobile brands. Maruti expanded its market share, riding the success of utility vehicles like the Vitara Brezza and S Cross, even as Mahindra saw its position eroded, as recent offerings from the maker of the Scorpio and SUV 500 didn’t get the kind of buyer response it had hoped for.
Maruti executive director for marketing and sales R S Kalsi said the automaker held a 28-per cent market share for utility vehicles for the April-January period of the fiscal year. While that is a significant jump from just 7 per cent five years ago, helping the company also cross the 50 per cent mark in India’s passenger vehicle market share, Mahindra lost as much as 30 percentage points in its UV market share which fell to 25 per cent from 55 per cent.
Kalsi said what worked for the company was its prompt response to customer demands — the automaker developed the Brezza, now the nation’s top-selling SUV, after customer feedback about the lack of a sporty, fun-to-drive SUV.
Mahindra acknowledged the drop in market share, but said it claimed back the top position in utility vehicles for the past two months with some tweaking in its products and marketing strategy. It is set to launch multiple vehicles on as many as three new platforms in the coming months.
A Mahindra spokesman said the company was confident of wresting back the leadership next fiscal year on the back of these launches. But Maruti is also set to launch an all-new Ertiga next fiscal year, which means it won’t be easy for Mahindra.
In recent years, product launches have worked in contrasting ways for the two companies. Maruti, which made a serious attempt in the utility vehicle segment with the Ertiga in 2012, took a huge leap with the Brezza in 2015.
Mahindra, known for its rugged SUVs, the KUV100 and TUV300 didn’t live up to expectations. The tepid performance is blamed on pricing as well as issues with fuel efficiency, power and some quality niggles.
Maruti Suzuki sold 230,995 utility vehicles in the first 11months of the current fiscal year, whereas Mahindra’s sales were 209,322 units. The Mahindra spokesperson said a heavy rush of product launches in the utility vehicle space — almost 20 models in five years — resulted in expansion of the segment.
But it also led to fragmentation, hurting Mahindra hard on the market share front though the number of vehicles it sold remained steady. “Having said that, we are not comfortable with our current UV market share,” he said.
The company said the repositioning of the KUV100 and TUV300 over the last six months helped the brand regain monthly leadership in January and February. It now plans to launch three new platforms — S201, U321 and Y400 — in the next nine months.
This along with expanding its rural reach to every 25 kilometres, and new age digital marketing interface in the urban areas, will help the company build the brand equity further, he said, adding, “We are confident that all of the above actions will see us regain and maintain UV leadership in the coming year.”