Brand In Focus: Maruti Suzuki

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Introduction:

Maruti Suzuki, one of India’s leading automobile manufacturers, recently celebrated the significant milestone of achieving 1 lakh sales of their compact SUV, the Fronx. Amidst this celebration, Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director of Sales and Marketing at Maruti Suzuki, unveiled plans for three of their models – the Baleno, Grand Vitara, and Brezza – to undergo Bharat NCAP crash testing. This move reflects Maruti’s commitment to enhancing the safety standards of its vehicles, addressing concerns about safety and perception in the market.

Maruti Suzuki’s Safety Record:

Maruti Suzuki has faced criticism for the safety ratings of its cars, particularly after two models – the Alto K10 and Wagon R – scored poorly in Global NCAP tests in 2023. Both received less than 2 stars for adult occupancy and zero stars for child occupancy protection. Responding to these concerns in 2022, Maruti Suzuki’s Chairman, RC Bhargava, downplayed the significance of incorporating NCAP standards, asserting that they would not significantly impact accident rates.

Source – ET Auto

The Baleno, although not tested by Global NCAP, received a zero-star rating in Latin NCAP tests. In contrast, the previous-generation Brezza (Vitara Brezza) garnered a respectable 4-star adult occupancy rating and 2 stars for child occupancy in Global NCAP’s evaluation in 2018. The upcoming Bharat NCAP testing for the Baleno, Grand Vitara, and Brezza aims to address safety concerns and improve the perception of Maruti Suzuki’s vehicles.

Bharat NCAP Crash Tests:

The Bharat NCAP crash tests have gained prominence in the Indian automotive industry, with Tata’s Harrier and Safari achieving the highest 5-star rating in the initial results released in December. Maruti Suzuki aims to replicate this success with its models undergoing testing, hoping for positive results that can bolster consumer confidence.

Upcoming Maruti Swift – Design and Features:

Maruti Suzuki’s next major launch in India is the all-new Swift, internally codenamed Maruti YED. The new Swift, set to go on sale in the coming months, continues the legacy of this popular model with a refreshed design. Although the exterior retains the sporty and familiar Swift aesthetics, the 2024 model is 15mm longer, 40mm narrower, and 30mm taller than its predecessor. The interior features a unique dashboard design, with elements shared across Maruti Suzuki models like the Baleno and Fronx.

Powering the new Swift is Suzuki’s Z12 engine, an all-new 1.2-litre petrol unit. Expected to come with mild-hybrid technology, the engine’s power and torque outputs might vary to comply with different emissions regulations. The new Swift seeks to offer a balance of performance, design, and fuel efficiency, aiming to maintain its position as one of Maruti’s best-selling models.

Maruti Brezza: Relaunch with Mild-Hybrid Tech:

Maruti Suzuki has reintroduced the Brezza with mild-hybrid technology in manual variants, addressing concerns about fuel efficiency. Previously, the company had removed mild-hybrid tech from manual versions, but it has now been reinstated in higher-spec variants, such as ZXI and ZXI+. With prices starting at Rs 11.05 lakh, the Brezza now boasts increased fuel efficiency of 19.89kpl, making it more economical than the Kia Sonet in mild-hybrid form.

Source – Maruti Suzuki Arena

The Brezza’s mild-hybrid technology is available on the top-spec manual variants, while it is also an option for VXI AT, ZXI AT, and ZXI+ AT automatic variants. This move aligns with Maruti Suzuki’s strategy to offer a diverse range of choices to cater to different customer preferences.

Maruti Fronx Success and Future Plans:

Maruti Suzuki’s Fronx has achieved remarkable success, crossing the 1 lakh sales milestone in approximately 10 months. Despite challenges like semiconductor shortages causing initial delivery delays, the Fronx commands a 12 percent share in the SUV market, with its entry-level market share increasing from 17 percent to 30 percent. The Fronx, targeted at urban-based first-time buyers, has become a significant player in Maruti’s portfolio.

The Fronx’s success is attributed to its diverse powertrain options – a 1.2-litre petrol engine and a 1.0-litre Boosterjet engine. Additionally, the availability of CNG variants and automatic gearbox-equipped models contributes to its popularity. Around 7 percent of Fronx customers opt for the Boosterjet engine, while 24 percent choose the automatic transmission. The Fronx’s accomplishment reinforces Maruti Suzuki’s position in the competitive SUV market.

Conclusion:

Maruti Suzuki’s recent developments showcase the company’s commitment to addressing safety concerns, introducing innovative technologies, and maintaining its market leadership. The decision to send the Baleno, Grand Vitara, and Brezza for Bharat NCAP crash testing demonstrates a proactive approach to improving safety standards and customer perceptions.

As Maruti Suzuki prepares to launch the all-new Swift with updated design elements and powertrain options, it aims to continue the success story of this iconic model. The reintroduction of mild-hybrid technology in the Brezza enhances fuel efficiency and competitiveness in the compact SUV segment.

The Fronx’s impressive sales performance highlights Maruti Suzuki’s ability to resonate with the preferences of urban, first-time buyers. Overall, these developments underscore Maruti Suzuki’s dynamic strategy in adapting to market demands, ensuring safety, and offering a diverse product lineup to cater to the evolving needs of Indian consumers.

Maruti Suzuki Frequently Asked Questions

1. What prompted Maruti Suzuki to send the Baleno, Grand Vitara, and Brezza for Bharat NCAP crash testing?

Maruti Suzuki is committed to enhancing safety standards. Sending these models for Bharat NCAP crash testing is part of the company’s proactive approach to address safety concerns and improve customer perceptions.

2. How did Maruti Suzuki respond to safety concerns raised by Global NCAP in 2023?

In 2022, Maruti Suzuki chairman RC Bhargava downplayed the impact of incorporating NCAP standards, stating that it would not significantly affect the number of accidents. The recent decision to undergo Bharat NCAP testing reflects the company’s ongoing efforts to address safety issues.

3. What changes can we expect in the design and features of the new Maruti Swift?

The 2024 Maruti Swift features a refreshed design with familiar sporty aesthetics. It is slightly longer, narrower, and taller than its predecessor. The interior includes a unique dashboard design, and it will be powered by Suzuki’s new Z12 engine with mild-hybrid technology.

4. Why did Maruti Suzuki reintroduce mild-hybrid technology in the Brezza?

Maruti Suzuki reintroduced mild-hybrid technology in response to consumer demand for increased fuel efficiency. The technology is now available in higher-spec variants of the Brezza, contributing to a boost in its ARAI-rated fuel efficiency.

5. How successful has the Maruti Fronx been in the market?

The Maruti Fronx has achieved significant success, crossing the 1 lakh sales milestone in approximately 10 months. Despite initial delivery delays due to semiconductor shortages, the Fronx commands a 12 percent share in the SUV market, appealing to urban-based first-time buyers.

6. What are the powertrain options available for the Maruti Fronx?

The Fronx is available with two powertrain options – a 1.2-litre petrol engine and a 1.0-litre Boosterjet engine. About 7 percent of Fronx customers opt for the Boosterjet engine, and 24 percent choose the automatic transmission. Additionally, the 1.2-litre engine is available as a CNG variant.

7. When can we expect the launch of the all-new Maruti Swift in India?

The new Maruti Swift is expected to go on sale by April 2024. The model is currently being road-tested in India, and its production is set to begin next month at Maruti’s Hansalpur plant in Gujarat.

8. How does the Maruti Brezza’s fuel efficiency compare to its rivals?

With the reintroduction of mild-hybrid technology, the top-spec Maruti Brezza now boasts a fuel efficiency of 19.89kpl. This makes it more fuel-efficient than the Kia Sonet in mild-hybrid form, although the Maruti Fronx still leads the compact SUV segment in terms of fuel efficiency.

9. What safety ratings did the previous-gen Brezza receive in Global NCAP tests?

The previous-generation Brezza (Vitara Brezza) received a 4-star adult occupancy rating and 2 stars for child occupancy in Global NCAP tests conducted in 2018, marking a notable achievement for Maruti Suzuki in crash test evaluations.

10. How does Maruti Suzuki plan to re-establish the Swift brand with the new design and powertrain?

Contrary to the previous-gen Swift-Dzire twins, Maruti Suzuki plans to introduce the new Swift in India first, followed by the Dzire a few months later. This strategy aims to “re-establish” the Swift brand with its updated design and powertrain options in the Indian market.

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