In Top Gear Still – And Riding High
Bhargava joined Maruti Suzuki in 1981 and is widely believed to be the wind beneath its sails
Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma
R.C. Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki India
The year gone by has been a slow one for the Indian auto industry, yet Maruti Suzuki sold altogether 1.75 million vehicles in the domestic market, to notch a growth of 6.1 per cent. It sold 1.72 million passenger vehicles, or 5.3 per cent more than in the previous year and 23,874 light commercial vehicles (LCVs), which was a whopping 138 per cent increase over the previous year. Maruti Suzuki India exported 1.08 lakh vehicles and ended the 2018-19 financial year with the highest ever sales of 1.86 million vehicles.
The company’s net sales stood at Rs 830,265 million in FY 2018-19, a growth of 6.3 per cent over the previous year. Over the last four years, Maruti Suzuki India has doubled its sales network, introduced a new sales channel, NEXA, and offered exciting products. Yet, India’s largest personal vehicle manufacturer, with a market share of 51 per cent, posted a net profit that was 2.9 per cent lower than that of the previous year at Rs 75,006 million.
Analysts think 2018-19 was a difficult year because of adverse foreign exchange rates and increase in commodity prices. The overall market was slow and had to be supported by higher sales promotion expenses. This was partially offset by cost reduction efforts. Maruti commissioned its second Suzuki Motors Gujrat plant, leading to a higher expense on account of depreciation.
Maruti Suzuki India Chairman, R. C. Bhargava, joined the company in 1981 and is widely believed to be the wind beneath its sails. Speaking to BW Businessworld, he said, “The whole business of manufacturing is dependent on a company continuing to remain more competitive than anybody else and to remain competitive you have to keep making improvements all the time. The importance of the whole thing is you must make continuous improvements all the time. And Kaizen says that everything is capable of being improved all the time. So that is the philosophy required for a company to remain competitive.”
Maruti Suzuki India’s parent, Suzuki Motor Corp and Toyota Motor Corporation, are deepening their business partnership in all areas. The two Japanese companies have been studying details of the collaboration since they signed an MOU for business partnership in February 2017. Compact vehicles like the Baleno and Brezza will be cross badged and sold by Toyota, while Maruti will do the same with the Corolla.
Bhargava said, “I think the partnership between Suzuki and Toyota has very significant long-term implications for India and Maruti, because of the access to Toyota technology and the partnership with Toyota in terms of components technology and vehicles.” The Toyota-Suzuki pact, however, will go beyond sharing of vehicles and platforms. Toyota will supply hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technologies to Maruti Suzuki through local procurement of HEV systems, engines and batteries.
"Mr. Bhargava has always been par excellence in his endeavor for shareholder value creation. Maruti Suzuki stands at this juncture under the direction, mentoring of Mr. Bhargava." says Mr Ajay Seth CFO and Sr Executive Director (Finance)
Meanwhile, Maruti is known to be expanding its extensive sales and service network across the country. Maruti Suzuki continues to expand its service network. The brand has added over 200 new workshops in 2018-19 to its nationwide network, which is the largest addition to the service network by an automobile company in the country. The total network of the company now increases to 3,634 workshops across 1,789 towns and cities.
While talking about Mr. Bhargava, C V Raman - Senior Executive Director (Engg) Maruti Suzuki said "Chairman san has always believed in partnerships & working together with all stakeholders, be it suppliers or dealers. He would always articulate policies which would be a win-win for the customer & for the stakeholder."
At this pace, a brand new Maruti Suzuki workshop gets inaugurated every second day somewhere in the country. “Our focus on customers will continue and will be the core of our strategy,” says Bhargava, adding, “We believe this will give maximum benefits to our shareholders and our customers.”