Confident of beating industry growth in FY19: R S Kalsi of Maruti Suzuki
Automobiles industry is expected to grow at 9-10% in FY19, Kalsi said
Auto major Maruti Suzuki is confident of maintaining a double-digit growth in FY19, says R S Kalsi, the company’s senior executive director - marketing and sales, in an interview with zeebiz.com on the sidelines of its #PahniKya? campaign at Auto Expo 2018. Kalsi said the company has received a huge demand for its new Swift and is aiming to launch electrical vehicles by 2020. Edited excerpts:
Tell us in brief about your #PahniKya? campaign?
The nationwide survey that we conducted on seat belt usage in India revealed some startling facts. As many as 75% claimed they don’t wear seat belt while travelling in cars. Equipping cars with top-notch safety features would amount to nothing if people won’t follow road safety practices. With the #PahniKya? The campaign, that we launched in November 2017, we wish to bring about a behavioural change among car occupants towards seat belt usage.
Maruti Suzuki recorded just 4.8% year-on-year growth in car sales in January. Was it on account of a high base?
We should not read too much into month-on-month figures. Production has levelised. We expect cumulative growth to be in double digits. Monthly demand may vary on account of seasonal factors such as festivals or other auspicious periods. Fourth quarter is traditionally high base and the absolute numbers are good. We sold close to 1.45 lakh units in January. On growth parameters, it may look small.
Can you specify your FY19 target?
Automobiles industry is expected to grow at 9-10% in FY19. While we are yet to finalise the target and budget for next year, what I can say is we will maintain growth momentum in double digit, aiming at beating industry growth.
How the market is penetrated between smaller and larger segment?
Car penetration level is low in India compared to global standards. Entry level market is huge, and we’re focused on that. With the market getting mature, we have customers skipping the entry level, directly moving to next level. We have robust demand for entry level sedans. 50 per cent buyers in Dzire category are first time buyers. Alto is our highest selling model. We sell about 20-22,000 Altos per month, 18,000 Dzire, 17,000 Swift and about 14,000 Balenos per month. We are well-balanced that way and have customers in every segment.
How has the demand been for your new Swift?
About 15,000 units of outgoing swift were sold on average per month. Ever since we started bookings for the new Swuft, we have received 40,000 bookings till Thursday, this is without customers seeing the price or the model. Purely on account of brand quality and life, they made their bookings. we expect an increase in bookings as the new shift makes way to showrooms.
With the petrol and diesel prices hovering around same level, do you believe the diesel premium is fizzling out?
A number of factors are at play in that direction. While price differential is there, there has been a general sentiment against diesel cars, especially because of the perception the diesel cars are more pollutant. The preference ratio is shifting towards petrol cars. In our case, it is 70% for gasoline and 30% for diesel.
Would you like to share with your customers your future Concept car ideas?
We have showcased our Concept Future S that reflects the future trend. The next step would be to conduct a market research to gauge the taste and likes of customers, then our engineers will refine these models. It will take at least 3 to 4 years before these cars come to production. For now, we just have these cars, but our next focus will be electrical vehicles that will come by 2020.