Suzuki Motor wants a repeat of Maruti from India in two-wheelers


Mumbai: With Maruti Suzuki now contributing more than half of the global car sales for Suzuki Motor Corporation, the Japanese auto major is eyeing a similar feat with its local two-wheeler unit, which is already accounting for about 40 per cent of its global two-wheeler sales.

“For motorcycles, India market is very, very important. In near future, it will become like Maruti for Suzuki,” Satoshi Uchida, managing director of Suzuki Motorcycle India, told ET on the sidelines of EICMA 2019 in Milan. “So, Suzuki is focussing on India; how to build the Indian market,” he said.

A quarter of Suzuki’s global sale of two million two-wheelers last year came from only one model – the Access scooter that it sells in India, Uchida said. In all, the company sold close to 670,000 two-wheelers in India last fiscal.

The company, which has decided to stay away from the mass-market commuter segment in the country, will launch at least half a dozen higher engine capacity scooters and motorcycles in the next three years. To stay clear of any ban on combustion engine two-wheelers with engine capacity less than 150cc, as mooted by the Centre earlier, Suzuki will develop scooters with an engine capacity of 151cc-155cc.

Suzuki will also utilise its 250cc engine platform to make several other styles of motorcycles and compete in the Rs 1.5-3 lakh high-margin, premium motorcycle market which is currently dominated by Royal Enfield. However, the company will not be competing directly against the maker of Bullet bikes as it does not plan to launch retro-styled, classic motorcycles.

“Classic trend is over. We have to look for another trend coming,” Uchida said about Suzuki’s premium motorcycle plans.

To increase contribution from the local market, Suzuki will also export motorcycles from India to other countries, including its home market of Japan, where it is already exporting India-made Gixxer 150 motorcycles. The company expects to export about 100,000 units this fiscal, Uchida said, adding that the number may become three-fold in the near future.

“We have a very big advantage on cost. If something is accepted in India, that means price-wise we can utilise it for the whole of the world,” he explained. “Even Japan is eager to get more India-made models.”

The company has the capacity to manufacture one million two-wheelers annually at its Gurgaon plant in the NCR. Given the slowdown in the Indian market, it has put on hold its plan to set up a second manufacturing plant here. The company is, however, scouting for a land parcel for the second plant. Construction will begin once the market sentiment improves, says Uchida.

While Suzuki was the only major two-wheeler maker to register a growth amidst the ongoing sales slowdown, Uchida expects sales growth for the company to be flat or even marginally negative in FY21 because of a price increase due to the implementation of BS-VI emission norms compliant technology. Considering this, the existing manufacturing capacity is good for at least the next two years, he said.

(The correspondent was in Milan at the invitation of Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India.)


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