Tokyo: Suzuki Motor is taking a cautious view of the race to build a $3,000 car in India, where the Japanese mini-car specialist is the market leader, its chief executive said Wednesday.
India’s Tata Motors has previously said it plans to introduce a $3,000 car in its home market next year, while Nissan and Renault are also considering jointly launching a similarly priced vehicle in India by 2010.
But Osama Suzuki, chairman and chief executive expressed scepticism about prospects for such a low-priced vehicle.
“Global standards for emissions, environmental protection and automobile safety are all becoming stricter each year. It’s not really clear which standards, in which year, this $3,000 car is aiming to meet.
“For example, will airbags be included? Will there be seatbelts? These are questions that really need to be considered,” he told reporters.
“So our fundamental stance is that rather than Suzuki becoming very concerned and watching over its shoulder to see what other people are doing, Suzuki has decided to move forward at its own pace,” he said.
Suzuki was an early entrant into the Indian market when the billion-plus nation started opening up its economy in the 1990s following decades of socialist protectionism.
Maruti Suzuki India Limited, majority owned by the Japanese automaker, now has a market share of more than 50% in the fast-growing Indian market, but its dominance is being increasingly challenged by global automakers.
“Going forward the idea of our being able to maintain this 55% share is something that’s going to be very difficult to achieve,” said Shinzo Nakanishi, managing director of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.
“We will strive to keep this very large market share. However we do realize that competition is going to be fierce going forward,” he said.
Suzuki, however was more optimistic. “We will forever maintain a 50% or more share of the Indian market.