At a time when the Indian automotive industry is hit hard for multiple reasons, Suzuki shines with positive sales growth. Here’s how he managed to do it along with plans to deal with the current Covid-19 situation.
Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd is the only two-wheeler manufacturer to record positive sales growth in the last fiscal year. This despite the fact that the Indian two-wheeler industry recorded a sales decline of 17.8% in fiscal year 2020 on an annual basis. Amidst all of this, Suzuki stood out with positive sales growth of 2.5% in the prior year, as it sold a total of 6,85,223 units in fiscal 2020, compared to 6 68,787 units sold during fiscal year 2019 (national sales). In order to understand what all of the factors have contributed to Suzuki’s positive momentum and how the company plans to adjust to the new normal in terms of the current Covid-19 crisis, Express Drives recently interacted with Devashish Handa , Vice President, Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd. Here is what he has to say!
Suzuki is the only two-wheeler manufacturer to have recorded positive sales growth in the last fiscal year. What factors do you think have contributed to this dynamic?
Taking advantage of a positive growth momentum for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, we attribute this growth to our partner dealers, our personalized product offering and the love and trust shown by our valued customers. Additionally, Suzuki Motorcycle India has launched various go-to-market initiatives and marketing campaigns to enhance the relevance of the products to our potential customers. SMIPL maintained an upward growth path throughout the year and ended the year with 5.7% growth in the last fiscal year selling 790,397 units, including domestic sales and exports.
With the current containment linked to Covid-19, what has been the impact on the company?
The pandemic has had an impact on the overall economy and industries across all segments have been hit hard because of it, including the auto industry. The nationwide shutdown was put in place to combat the pandemic and ensure the safety of every individual, which has disrupted production, distribution and sales for over a month now.
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After the lockdown is done, how is Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt. Ltd. plan to resume operations and will there be a different business approach?
Ensuring the implementation of strict safety standards and social distancing guidelines led by the Government of India, Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt. Ltd. (SMIPL), the two-wheeler subsidiary of Suzuki Motor Corporation, Japan, is preparing to start production at its manufacturing facility in Kherki Dhaula, Gurugram. However, given the current scenario, it will be difficult to mention a particular production start date. We must accept the new normal mode of operation, continue to practice social distancing and other preventive measures for the safety of all. Once we start, initially as a brand, our goal will be to instill enthusiasm and positivity in our staff and dealership partners to keep all departments running smoothly. On the dealership side, there will be many disinfection processes and precautionary measures while engaging customers and staff.
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Some manufacturers have partially started operations at their production facilities. Is Suzuki also looking forward to this soon? If so, when can we expect production to start?
We will keep you posted on the production start date. Right now, we are in the planning phase, where we are developing a strategy on how we, as an organization, can ensure the safety and security of our workforce and our dealers. partners. As soon as we start, at the beginning, we will operate with a limited workforce and gradually move up to full strength maintaining a healthy working environment for our employees.
How do you think the market will react once this containment is lifted?
The market will experience changes in lifestyle, behavior and operation both at the corporate and individual level for the safety and well-being of all. Practices such as wearing masks, social distancing, limited use of shared mobility options, etc. will come into force. The limited use of shared mobility / public transport facilities further fuel the demand for the two-wheeler industry as more people turn to personal mobility solutions. The preference for scooters and motorcycles will increase for commuting in terms of its cost of ownership compared to a four-wheeled vehicle.
Many manufacturers are going the online route completely during this lockdown, a similar strategy that Suzuki is also working on?
The new normal will be different from the previous one. We already have an option on our official website to find a dealer and book a test drive with one click. I think we can further strengthen it with the support of our partner dealers and our sales team. The idea is to offer a digitally enriched customer experience.
Will there be any changes in the retail model and how will the outlets handle the new normal in terms of the current situation?
Social distancing is the new normal and it will also show in our business operations once we get back to work and dealerships open. There will certainly be some changes in vehicle delivery and customer interaction / engagement with particular emphasis on disinfection and other precautionary measures. The industry is also analyzing the appointment-based approach to buying and selling automobiles in all segments to ensure the safety of our stakeholders, including our employees and dealers, while we let’s focus on growing the business.
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