Its (Alto)gether good for Maruti-Suzuki

I am both shocked and surprised every time when Maruti-Suzuki comes out with a new model launch. Shocked because this is a company, which until a few years ago, barring a few gems like Zen, was dishing out old, outdated models to Indian customers and surprised by the way in which they have reinvented themselves and responded to the onslaught of global competition by launching fresh, new models from the Suzuki stable, soon after their global premieres. And they didn’t stop with that. Until very recently, the company’s Achille’s heel was the lack of a diesel powertrain. They promptly knocked the doors of Fiat, got access to the superb 1.3 Multi-Jet Diesel and put the engine to good use in their models by tuning it for smoother power delivery and more efficiency than the original. To say that they are now reaping the benefits of this would be an understatement.

So, when the Alto K10, a more-powerful, slightly redesigned variant of India’s best selling car was launched on 4th of August, all knew it would be an instant success. But, it has apparently gone on to create a record which no other new car model launched in India has done before – 20,000 bookings in 40 days flat. Now, that’s no mean feat. It has all but clearly cemented Alto’s position as India’s largest selling car for atleast the next couple of years, come Nano or whatever. Literally, Maruti-Suzuki has made it’s bread and butter model “competition-proof” with this new K10 version. Just take it for a short spin and you will understand the reason for it’s massive success. The existing Alto, though a traditional best-seller, was and will never be an enthusiast’s car. The K10 though, with it’s responsive engine and agile handling, has increased the aspirational content in the economy segment, which is a rare combination to achieve. With combined monthly sales of Alto & K10 crossing the 28,000 mark in Aug-2010, I strongly feel that it will reach the magical 30,000 mark in the next couple of months, thus sending the Alto into a stratospheric zone.

Yes, Maruti-Suzuki has had it’s fair share of flops in recent years in the form of A-Star and Estilo, while the Ritz, though a success is not doing the expected numbers. But, being who they are, the company will not hesitate to reposition (read ‘price-cut’) the slow-selling models. Take for instance, the birth of super-successful Eeco from the ultimate-flop Versa. But, what never ceases to amaze me is that every time they come under criticism for resting on their laurels and not updating their models, Maruti-Suzuki comes back with a bang, stronger and better-equipped to fight, and ultimately crushes the competition.

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