Maruti Suzuki Sees Increase In First-Time Buyers Amid Easing Lockdown
Maruti Suzuki vehicles stand lined at the company’s headquarters in New Delhi, India, on Oct. 24, 2019. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Maruti Suzuki Sees Increase In First-Time Buyers Amid Easing Lockdown

India’s largest carmaker is witnessing an increase in first-time buyers as the Covid-19 pandemic is forcing people to shun shared mobility amid fears of contracting the virus.

Sales to first-time buyers has increased by about 5.5%, Shashank Srivastava, executive director of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., said during an analyst call on Wednesday. He said consumers are gravitating towards established brands.

The salaried segment, according to Srivastava, is increasingly making enquiries, who are eyeing smaller cars. “The current data in terms on inquiry levels suggest there’s an uptake in small cars,” he said, which is higher than last year.

Maruti Suzuki, which posted its first quarterly loss on record, said demand in the last three months is already at 85-90% of pre-Covid-19 levels. The carmaker, however, sounded uncertain on long-term demand trends.

“Too early to comment how demand will pan out going ahead,” Srivastava said. “It will depend on fundamentals of economy.”

This may be the start of a trend that benefits the industry, according to Vimlesh Gulati, vice president of Federation of Automobile Dealers’ Association. “It might not be a significant number but it shows that people are shunning public transport and moving towards personal mobility,” he told BloombergQuint over the phone. “It’s happening and is a good sign for the industry.”

That comes as India’s automobile industry is witnessing its worst slowdown in more than two decades and was hoping for a demand revival this year. The pandemic, however, deepened the crisis, with production in the first quarter all but wiped out.

Maruti Suzuki said it’s now doing a run rate of producing 4,000 plus vehicles per day, and expects capacity to go up to nearly 5,000 per day by September.

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