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Maruti Suzuki, which rules the domestic car market with a fifty per cent share, is slowly but surely started marking its presence in the new business of light commercial vehicles (LCV or goods carrier). The Suzuki-promoted company had entered the LCV business in July 2016 and is now the fifth player in the segment, though market share is just 2 per cent.
The company had sold 460 units of LCV, branded as Super Carry, in the April-January period of FY17. Sales multiplied manifold to 7,369 units in the first 10 months of this financial year. These numbers are quite small compared to the volumes that the top two players — M&M and Tata Motors — clock. But Maruti is betting big on the prospects of the segment. It has also started shipping LCVs and has exported 900 units.
“LCV is a new segment that we need to challenge. We have experience in LCVs globally. The Indian market offers opportunity in this space. That is why we started with it and we will consider future products. I believe that India is changing dramatically and we have to improve the transportation and delivery system in cities and between the cities. Our products will have room to occupy some business here. We try to develop this new segment of business as we are seeing acceptance,” said Kenichi Ayukawa, managing director and chief executive officer at Maruti Suzuki.
The company said customers are opting for its LCV because of features like power, pickup, driving comfort and mileage. Maruti Suzuki has a single product in the segment, catering to transportation of goods and it is available in both diesel and CNG variants. But it is getting ready to expand the range.
“We are touching a new set of customers, different from car buyers with LCVs. We will develop new relationships and we will try to develop products in tune with their expectations. It will be a focus area for us. Tata Motors and Mahindra have a range of products,” said Ayukawa.
Maruti Suzuki currently ranks fifth in the LCV segment of LCV after M&M, Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland and VECV. It is ahead of players like Force Motors, Piaggio and Isuzu. Super Carry was developed at an investment of Rs 3 billion. Equipped with a powerful 793 cc diesel engine it promises a mileage of 22.07 km per litre and has a loading capacity of 740 kgs.
The competition has started taking note of Maruti’s LCV play. “We should not discount any competition. Maruti Suzuki is very strong in passenger vehicles. They enjoy a good popularity in the automobile market. It is an important competition which we need to keep track of,” said Girish Wagh, president of the CV business unit at Tata Motors, the country’s biggest commercial vehicles maker.
Maruti Suzuki is rolling out the retail network for LCVs in phases. Super Carry is being retailed through 172 new commercial outlets in 25 states. Like Nexa (Maruti’s network to sell premium cars), only existing dealers of the company are eligible for the LCV business.