From India, with love
Recently Indian auto scene stood witness to an event that I have no qualms in terming ‘historic’. Maruti Suzuki, (Suzuki’s Indian subsidiary) launched its car named Baleno with great fanfare. Nothing unique in that. In its 30 years of presence in India, Maruti Suzuki has launched umpteen models many of which have become iconic in their own right.
But, this launch was different. Behind the fanfare, one aspect that didn’t get the space it deserved in the discourse was the fact that Suzuki will, for the first time ever, export a Made-in-India car to Japan, the headquarters of parent company. Not just that, Baleno will be exported to 100 countries in the world including Japan and Europe.
Since starting its operations along with Suzuki three decades ago, Maruti has imported multiple models of Suzuki to India but Maruti Baleno is poised to reverse the process.
To me, therefore, this represents a development as significant as the launch of Maruti 800, the first car launched by Suzuki that alerted the course of automobile industry in India and which was phased out only recently after decades of successful run.
Mark the words of Maruti Suzuki Managing Director and CEO Kenichi Ayukawa who said after the Baleno launch, “I am excited that this model will be exported to Japan from India, opening a new chapter in the long history of Maruti Suzuki. It is a global model which would not only satisfy customers in India but global markets as well”. And the excitement is palpable.
So, a much hackneyed but still relevant question needs to be asked – Is India finally arriving as a base for auto manufacturing for the world? There is ample evidence to be in affirmative.
Hyundai, Volkswagen, Nissan and Ford have been using India as an export hub especially for emerging markets in West Asia, Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia. Hyundai India exports to 119 countries around the world, shipping about 200,000 cars in Financial Year 2014-15. Companies like General Motors India, which had not previously given much importance to exports from India, have also joined the bandwagon and have started shipping to overseas markets.
By Rajiv Budhraja
(Full text in PTA Dec-Jan issue)