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Redefining identity: How Maruti has cleared the road for Dzire

Looks to leverage its popularity to power up new line of sedans, redefine identity, rev up sales

Ajay Modi  |  New Delhi 

maruti, dzire, car

For the country’s biggest car maker, Suzuki, a lot rides on its popular compact sedan, Swift It is the company’s second most sold vehicle after the Alto and brings approximately 14 per cent of the domestic volumes. But the company now desires to position as a vehicle distinct from Swift, thereby cutting its ties to a style and association that fashioned the initial model when it was launched in 2008. By doing this, the company believes it can leverage the power of the brand more effectively, tap into its aspirational pull and drive up

The new model of the sedan, to be launched on May 16, will drop Swift from the label. It will be called and not Swift “The first generation of the sedan took cues from the Swift. We are moving to a new sedan that is different in design from the Swift. We want to make it more aspirational. can now hold on its own,” said C V Raman, executive director (engineering) at Suzuki. 

The first generation of was seen as a Swift with additional boot space. Now that the brand has developed a distinct identity, the company wants to exploit to the fullest. Strategically, Suzuki is bringing the full model change of into the market first and the new Swift may drive out next year.

In a segment marked that has more than a dozen players, commands 50 per cent of the volumes. It has been the company’s second highest sold model for three consecutive years. sold a total of 200,000 Dzires last financial year. To put this in perspective, sold more than what like Tata Motors, Honda and sell across all the models put together. If was a car making company, it would have become the fourth largest player in the domestic industry. Several new launches have failed to dent the popularity of Maruti’s best-seller. 

Besides its competitive cost and maintenance, the company’s vehicles are also chosen for a strong service network, the widest in the industry. On a cumulative basis, 1.38 million units of have been sold since the launch in 2008. 

Why then was there a need to reposition the brand and rework the model? volumes have been mostly flat in three of the last four years. Competition has also become aggressive. competes with Hyundai’s Xcent, Honda’s Amaze and Toyota’s Etios. The latest product to enter the market has been Tata Motors’ Tigor. The closest competitor of is Hyundai’s Xcent, which clocked annual volume of about 47,000 units last financial year.  The Korean car maker has just launched the new model of Xcent and hopes to sell 60,000 units a year.

The last full model change of was in 2012. “If you do not make your products obsolete, the competition will do it. We need to be relevant to the evolving needs and keep changing to meet the needs,” said R S Kalsi, executive director (marketing and sales) at Suzuki. 

The new is highly contemporary in design, has a wider front and sports additional features to the outgoing model. It is lighter in weight (about 105 kgs) and therefore offers higher fuel efficiency. The diamond cut alloy wheels enhances the appeal. The new touch screen infotainment system has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This also has rear air conditioning vents. Overall, the company aims to enhance the product value through its new design language and appeal to buyers in their late 20s and mid-30s. 

Kalsi is confident that the new will surpass the volumes achieved by its predecessor. “Competition has always been there. But we have been able to hold on to market leadership in the segment. The new is an authentic sedan,” he added. 

is also critical for the market leader as it eyes an annual volume of two million cars by 2020 (it sold 1.56 million vehicles in FY17). For the industry, Maruti’s efforts to add sizzle to the sedan market with a new launch and brand refresh could end up expanding the market which has been stuck at an annual volume of around 400,000 units in the last couple of years. 

The renaming and the new launch are also expected to help tackle another problem that and other sedan makers are up against: the association of the brand with cabs as the new aggregators and have brought about an increased visibility of the vehicle in the segment. sells a variant of Dzire, the Tour, for the segment. 

However, less than one fifth of the total volume comes from the segment. Of the 200,000 units sold in FY17, 32,000 units were to the and commercial players while the rest was to buyers in the personal segment. Still the association acts as a deterrent to purchase among a certain section of auto consumers and is hoping to break that, by linking the new model with a new label. 

The outgoing will be sold to the segment and Kalsi does not see any cannibalisation on the personal segment demand due to Dzire’s presence in space. A similar problem has plagued like and Both have tried to reposition their sedans, Xcent and Etios, by bringing out a distinct model for personal users and retaining outgoing models for segment.