Having grabbed the SUV leadership in the ongoing FY2024 despite being late in the game, Maruti Suzuki India is looking to aggressively fill the key gaps in its portfolio.
The company, which currently has a 25% share in the utility vehicle market, plans to introduce an A-SUV as an alternative to entry hatchback buyers and a large, three- row SUV in the coming two to three years to further build its presence and market share in the fast-growing segment.
According to industry sources, Maruti Suzuki is scheduled to launch a three-row SUV (codenamed Y17), based on the Grand Vitara, with a strong hybrid alternative from its upcoming Kharkhoda plant in 2025 and positioned in Rs 15 lakh to Rs 25 lakh price segment. The entry-level A-SUV (codenamed Y43), which Maruti aims will address all price-points in the segment, is planned to hit the roads in 2026-27.
Hisashi Takeuchi, MD and CEO of Maruti Suzuki India, told Autocar Professional recently that the company does not have enough SUVs and there are gaps to fill. In a market which has 55 models on sale, Maruti has only four. “The SUV trend is becoming bigger. At present, the main SUV categories are 4 metres and 4.3 metres, but they will expand further (into sub-segments) – a little bit at the lower end and also at the upper end. There are gaps, we can offer something at the bottom and something at the top, we will try to fill those gaps,” he said.
Maruti Suzuki has thus far relied on SUV-designed hatchbacks like the S-Presso and Ignis but with the A-SUV, the strategy is to have a proper SUV to take on the likes of the high-selling Hyundai Exter and Tata Punch compact SUVs, say people in the know.
The decision to come out with an entry SUV happens at a time when the sub-4- metre SUV market has crossed the million units mark in 2023, helping the overall UV market grow to over 2 million units. Maruti Suzuki, with four models launched in the past two years, currently has a small presence in this over 50-strong model segment.
Elaborating on the SUV plan, Takeuchi explained: “Sticking to our core value – we will offer more customers the joy of mobility. If a customer wants bigger SUVs, we will satisfy their needs. If they want a three-row vehicle, we will supply those cars to the Indian customers holding onto entry cars. I think in the small car segment, some SUVs will come in the future. Our SUV play will become much wider.”
Both the planned SUVs are likely to bring in incremental sales of 250,000 units per annum, if the production volume forecasted matches the market demand.
As a result of strong demand for new range of SUVs like the Fronx, Jimny and Grand Vitara, Maruti Suzuki has been able to double its SUV market share to 22% in the fiscal year to date. The volumes from the additional SUVs will be critical for Maruti if it wants to get back to its stated target of 50% market share in the passenger vehicle market.
Shashank Srivastava, senior executive officer, sales and marketing at Maruti Suzuki, had in an earlier interview explained that for Maruti Suzuki to regain its 50% market share, the company will have to capture 33% of the SUV market.
While both these new SUVs will be launched between 2025 and 2027, Maruti Suzuki has put out a bold target of grabbing 50% market share in 2025. This is likely to be a tough ask, given the intense competition and sustained new models from rivals planned in the next two years.
The SUV segment accounted for 48% of the overall passenger vehicle sales in 2023 with around 2 million units delivered. SUVs was the fastest growing segment last year growing by over 25% in a market where hatchbacks and sedans posted a decline. The share of SUVs in the overall passenger vehicle market is likely to surpass 50% in 2024, up from the 43% share it had in 2022.