New Delhi: Maruti Suzuki India Ltd is building a website where car buyers can compare prices, in a direct challenge to platforms such as CarWale and CarDekho, which provide similar services. The country’s largest carmaker expects such a platform to help generate sales leads, one person aware of the plans said, as online queries generate data and user information that can be shared with its own dealers. Currently, the platforms share such data with dealers of various carmakers.

“Most of the customers in the urban or in the semi-urban cities and towns do extensive research before going to the dealerships and most of them also compare products of their choice with other offerings in the same category on these websites," the person mentioned above said on condition of anonymity. “In the end, a customer has to put his or her mobile number and email address, and the lead generated goes to the dealer of that company as well as others. So, Maruti with this new website would not have to share the customer data that gets generated online."

Maruti Suzuki, which makes one of every two cars sold in India, has put in place a team of engineers to develop the platform that will not be used by the company for commercial use, but will benefit dealers. Dealers will play an essential role in operating this platform, said the person mentioned above.

“This decision makes sense for Maruti as it may be losing some customers to competitors, though Maruti also gets to know about the customers who want to buy a product of a rival organisation. Most of the customers will invariably look for Maruti’s products and others can have access to the data," said the person mentioned above.

Maruti Suzuki controlled almost 51% of the domestic automobile market at the end of the June quarter, and is taking steps to consolidate its position.

Automobile manufacturers have restricted themselves to manufacturing and marketing the products while the sales is left to the dealers. It will be interesting to see how Maruti Suzuki tries to change that, said Anil Sharma, associate director at Markets and Markets, a global consulting firm.

An email sent to Maruti Suzuki remained unanswered till the time of going to press.

“The investment required for the venture must be minuscule and will not be of a concern for a huge corporate like Maruti Suzuki. The concern is genuine since enquiries get shared with rival companies and sometimes, the customer gets calls from dealerships and sometimes from multiple dealerships of the same company," explained Sharma.

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