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Indian Car Industry Likely To Be World’s Third-Largest In Three Years, Says R C Bhargava

Maruti Will Continue To Power Growth Of Indian Market, Says Its Chairman

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With the Indian auto industry having grown in 2022-23 above the 2018-19 levels, after four years of no growth, and experts hoping that the record sales would mark a new phase of expansion, Maruti Chairman R C Bhargava feels that the Indian car industry is slated to grow to become the third-largest in the world, “probably in three years from now”, and that Maruti will have a very significant role in that.

With a market share of 41 per cent Maruti has been the dominant auto player in India, over the years. It has publicly expressed its ambitions to increase its market share to 50 per cent.

With a car penetration rate in India at around 32 per 1000 (and most other parts of the world having reached saturation points – US at 900 per 1000, China at over 200 per 1000), the Indian market holds huge potential for growth in auto.

While Maruti hopes to power the growth of Indian auto market, it also hopes to capture significant market shares in SUVs and EVs segments.

“We get into the EVs from 2024-25 (with the launch of six EVs in six years – there would be one new model a year, broadly speaking). I'm sure these models will be very well accepted, and will give us a leadership position in the EV segment also,” says Bhargava.

“We were a little slow in getting into SUVs. One of the reasons was that Suzuki, and therefore, Maruti, was never very strong in diesel engines. Suzuki was actually originally a petrol-only car manufacturer,” he adds.
The success of Maruti in India is also a tribute to its workforce, says Bhargava. “The success of Maruti in India is also because we could get workers to participate in that. They understood that if they did that the company would grow. (And) they would also grow along with the company”.

Bhargava feels that the auto industry could do with more attention and encouragement from policymakers. “Of these 70 odd years, I don't think that we have yet accepted that the car industry has been a major driver of manufacturing growth in many countries. And that the car industry has several linkages to different types of industries… If you look at the policy statements over the last even 20 years, I'm not sure if you'll find any policy statement which talks of cars being a high-priority industry,” he adds.

A former IAS officer (he topped the civil services examination), and an iconic leader, Bhargava says that in his personal life, he benefitted a great deal because he always had an open mind. “I was willing to learn from anybody,” he says.  “Amongst the important things that I learned was that even if a person is not highly educated, for instance the workman who may only be a high-school pass-out, s/he has a lot of capability and the ability to contribute towards achieving excellence,” he concludes.

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