In the wake of the unveiling of the Tata Nano, various manufacturers have made public their plans to develop and offer low-cost cars in India.
Denying media speculation that Maruti Suzuki was ready with a small car with a 660 cc engine, positioned below the Maruti 800, priced at Rs1.5 lakh, India's largest passenger carmaker has said that the company had no such plans.
Justifying its decision not to shrink the size of its products lower than that of its Maruti 800, the company said that ever since Maruti brought out the first people's car about 24 years ago, India's middle class and Maruti's customers have grown in every facet of their lives ranging from their incomes and lifestyles.
With that, the company says, their expectations from a car have evolved considerably. customers now generally settle for nothing less than contemporary styling, international quality and latest features that enhance their safety and convenience, while expecting performance and fuel efficiency like their parents did before them.
These changing preferences are reflected in the sales data for existing segments in the car market, with models and variants that promise only economy and low acquisition cost increasingly losing out to models and variants that are rich in features and style, Maruti says. "We find this trend holds true across segments, including among entry level cars," it noted in a statement.
"In our experience, our entry-level car customers nurture a high degree of aspiration, both in new cars as well as pre-owned. They want more from their cars in terms of features, performance, safety and versatility.
"Maruti Suzuki has been able to notice and understand this transformation, largely due to its close relationship with customers throughout the period of their car ownership.
The company says that its approach of "world strategic models", which includes cars like Swift, SX4 and Grand Vitara, ensures that Indian customers get international quality and style at the same time as customers in markets like Europe and Japan. "The success of these cars in the market has endorsed our view, and we want to pursue this strategy with greater vigour in future," the statement added.
In future, the company plans to launch world strategic models like Splash and A-Star, as part of the same conscious effort to offer international quality and design to Indian customers at an attractive price.
"Our view is that as Indian middle class families move up in life, they should continue to receive a range of cars from Maruti Suzuki that offer superior quality, international design and rich features. That is where our focus will lie," the statement concludes.