The Automobile market in India has undergone a tectonic shift in the last few years. The market which was once considered untouchable and duly neglected by all the auto makers, has now become the cynosure of everyone’s eyes. With the automobile market in the West under considerable duress because of the financial crisis, MNCs are vying with each other to get a slice of the Indian market ,currently the second fastest growing automobile market behind China. There have been quite a few automakers who have failed in this attempt but there are others who have struck it out and have been richly rewarded for their efforts. Maruti Suzuki, is a shining example that none of us cannot ignore. Riding on its stellar performance year after year, expectedly it is still the #1 MNC in India boasting annual revenues to the tune of more than 350 billion. Despite facing stiff competition from the likes of Hyundai, Toyota or Ford, Maruti has been able to sustain its dominance over the hearts and minds of Indians for the last 25 years or so. But the journey, by no means has been a walk in the park. It has been a tortuous and yet a fascinating journey. The Early Years….. The Maruti Suzuki joint venture in many ways was masterminded by the late Sanjay Gandhi. When the Maruti 800 was launched way back in 1983 it had the likes of Ambassador and Padmini to contend with. In contrast to the bulky, staid appearance of its competitors , 800’s unique design and size as well as its economical pricing became an instant hit with the Indian masses. For Indians long deprived of new excitement in the automobile space, Maruti 800 was a performance driven technological marvel that they have not previously seen. Coupled with its fuel efficiency, the car proved to be a boon for the Indian middle class. The economical pricing and the technology of Maruti 800, without any shadow of doubt completely revolutionized the automobile market in India. In the late 1990’s Maruti started to face intense competition from the likes of Hyundai and Daewoo. There were teething problems between the two shareholders which escalated into an ugly stand off and Maruti’s impeccable image as a technologically superior company took a major hit. But the problems did not persist for long. As soon as it became a subsidiary of Suzuki Motor Corp, it was able to reassert its dominance by launching models like Alto and the Swift. From Alto to Kizashi …….The Road ahead. Alto soon became the largest selling car for Maruti Suzuki, however other launches like the Baleno and the Versa failed to create any stir. But it was the launch of Swift in 2005, that really turned the tide around for Maruti.  The Swift went a long way in uplifting the fuddy duddy image of the company and brought back the young consumers of the 21st century under its fold. Launches like Dzire, the SX4 and the Ritz in the subsequent years, managed to augment Maruti’s bouquet of offerings. Though it is poised to face intense competition in its bread and butter small car segment, with every major automobile maker worth its salt eying this lucrative segment, the sheer power of the Maruti brand will keep it ahead of the chasing pack. The likes of Nissan Micra, Ford Figo or Hyundai’s Eon will undoubtedly pose a serious threat to Maruti’s hegemony , but nobody understand the pulse of Indian consumer better than Maruti, a major advantage that will definitely stand them in good stead in the future.

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