Suzuki Motor plans to triple dealers in India to 9,000: chairman

11, Mar. 2020

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TOKYO, NNA - Suzuki Motor Corp. plans to triple its dealerships in India to 9,000 in an effort to remain the country’s top automotive company, Osamu Suzuki, chairman of the major Japanese automaker, said in a recent interview with Kyodo News.

“As India has 10 times the population of Japan, there should be around 9,000 stores,” the 90-year-old said, referring to the number of shops in Japan at around 900, as he explained the aggressive target during the interview on Feb. 14 in Hamamatsu, central Japan.

Its subsidiary Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. sold around 1.72 million passenger cars in India, or half of all cars sold in the South Asian country, in the fiscal year through March 2019.

But it is experiencing sluggish growth amid an economic slowdown in one of the largest auto markets in the world -- next to China, the United States, Japan and Germany.

The slowdown has begun to reveal the firm’s weak point, the executive said, emphasizing the importance of creating sales footholds in relatively scarce rural areas to catch potential demand.

“We should build bases to catch ‘small sardines,’ as creating bases for ‘big tunas’ may have reached a limit,” he said.

He said the automaker’s production capability in India would be “OK for the time being,” as it plans to increase the output capacity of its plant in the western state of Gujarat.

Turning to the overall situation surrounding Suzuki Motor, he expressed appreciation of a partnership deal signed with Toyota Motor Corp. in 2017. “We are most grateful for the technical cooperation,” particularly in light of developing small-sized cars in which Suzuki Motor has an advantage, he said.

Suzuki Motor’s business is recovering from an inspection violation scandal in Japan that unfolded in 2018 and needs to beef up its state-of-the-art technologies to survive.

The business tycoon who has led the company for more than 40 years said, “I will contribute to society by working my whole lifetime.” The company marks its centenary next Sunday.