MUMBAI: Maruti Suzuki, India's largest car manufacturer, is exploring a foray into India's fastgrowing small commercial vehicle space. The segment is currently dominated by Tata Motors Ace with over 50% market share. Though the Japanese carmaker had the Omni Van, used as a cargo vehicle, it did not have a competitive offering in the load-carrier segment, due to the absence of a small diesel engine. But with the development of company's two-cylinder, 800 cc, diesel engine for the passenger car shifting to India, it is actively exploring options to use the potential workhorse to enter the small pick up truck market, ET learns.
The project is codenamed 'AP' and if the exercise fructifies into an actual investment, the possible entry into light commercial vehicle (LCV) space could happen "between 2015 and 2017", according to informed sources. ET has learnt that the company is likely to develop an all-new platform or may use the Suzuki carry pick up truck platform which is sold in South East Asia and may tweak it to handle the overloading abuse in the country. When contacted, a Maruti Suzuki spokesperson replied that the company does not comment on future product plans.
According to Frost & Sullivan, the Indian small and light commercial vehicle segment is likely to grow by a compounded annual growth rate of 18% over the next five years to 8,30,000 units by 2016. With the development of infrastructure, the country is expected to shift to hub-and-spoke model of transporting goods. In the hub-andspoke model heavy trucks ply on big highways, or hubs, and small commercial vehicles act as spokes in cities where the movement of heavy vehicles is restricted. In the April-November period, the mini truck and the pick-up truck segment combined (i.e. weight not exceeding 3.5 tonnes) posted a growth of 24% with sales of 2,75,900 units. In the same period, market leader Tata Motors posted a growth of 22.9% selling 1,57,183 units. Despite the entry of major players like M&M, Piaggio and Ashok Leyland, Tata Motors continues to lead with a market share of 57% this fiscal. Experts believe Maruti Suzuki may prove a major threat to Tata Motors as it has a wider reach in the country.