IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
STARTING THE ENGINE
It was India first people’s car at a time when only two brands ruled the roads—the Ambassador and the Premier Padmini. The top passenger carmaker in India, with a 50.5 per cent market share, it adapted quickly to changing consumer preferences and expanded its portfolio from small cars to all segments in the passenger vehicle market. An early flag-bearer of the Make in India campaign, it exported 1.5 million vehicles to over 100 countries.
The premium hatchback, Baleno, became its first car to be manufactured in India and exported to Japan. It employs 25,000 employees and is building a sustainable profit model by reducing imports and aggressively pursuing localisation.
It all began in a makeshift workshop in Delhi’s Gulabi Bagh. The year was 1966 and then prime minister Indira Gandhi’s son Sanjay Gandhi had ambitions of building India’s first small car. He started a car-building exercise with a few friends, with parts sourced from shops near the Jama Masjid and a motorcycle engine. The government even issued a letter of intent in September 1970, allowing Sanjay to produce up to 50,000 cars a year. But Emergency derailed the project. A year after Sanjay Gandhi’s death in June 1980, Indira Gandhi revived Maruti, with Suzuki as the technology provider from Japan. Maruti is the first company that combined sleek design with technology for a superior driving experience. It played a key role in opening up the Indian auto sector to foreign players. For many, Maruti was their first car. The company has launched 36 new or refreshed models and invested Rs 2,000 crore on an R&D centre. It is also skilling the youth by collaborating with the Industrial Training Institutes.
ALL GEARED UP
Maruti plans to invest over a billion dollars to revamp its range and launch 15 new vehicles in the next 3-5 years. It aims to hit 2 million in annual sales by the end of the decade, from the present 1.28 million.
FIELD OF MARUTI The factory at Manesar, Gurugram