India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki announced it will ramp up the production of Vitara Brezza, its sub-four metre SUV, from 8,000 to 10,000, or by 25%, starting July as the battle in the Indian compact SUVs market heats up.
Maruti Suzuki’s announcement came a couple of weeks after Hyundai Motor India Ltd decided to produce 25% more units of its largest-selling vehicle – the Creta, which, despite being larger, pricier, and differently equipped, gets compared with the Brezza because both are styled as SUVs.
This shows how automotive companies are banking on SUVs to drive sales. The numbers support their decision. SUV sales, which account for a quarter of India’s passenger vehicles market, grew 39% in April and May this year. The rest of the passenger vehicles, on the other hand, saw their sales increase by less than 9%, according to data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.
Data showed Maruti Suzuki sold 7193 units of Brezzas as against 7.57 Cretas in May 2016. The figures were 7832 Brezzas vs 7900 Cretas in April.
However, Rakesh Srivastava, the head of sales and marketing for Hyundai India, has no patience for the talk that the battle is boiling down to the Creta versus Brezza. “The Creta has been here for 11 months and has sold over 7,000 units every month. The race will be interesting in the longer run,” Srivastava told HT.
“The company is increasing the monthly production of the Creta to 12,500 units with increasing demand… That will help us bring down the waiting period,” he said.
Srivastava noted that this splurge in Creta’s production does not hamper the volume of production of other models by the company. Without revealing much on how more Creta’s will be produced, he said, “We are re-engineering our production process and bringing in more resources under utility for meeting our targets.”
During its March launch, Maruti Suzuki planned to produce 80,000 units of Brezza every year – about 6,600 units a month. So far, it has delivered over 45,000 Brezzas, making it the fastest-selling compact SUV. Ford Motor’s EcoSport, which reduced its prices by Rs 1.12 lakh two days after Brezza’s prices were announced in March, has delivered over 11,000 units in the same period.
The Brezza’s production came to a halt twice – when supplies were interrupted due to the Jat reservation protests in Haryana in March-April, and last month when a fire broke out at Subros, the air-conditioning component supplier to Maruti Suzuki.
According to sources, more than 50,000 Vitara Brezza deliveries are pending as of June end and the waiting time is about 6 to 8 months. In an email response to HT, Maruti Suzuki said, “We are making all possible efforts to ramp up production from next month onwards.”
Hyundai, too, had a more conventional production plan – 6,000 units per month at its launch in July 2015. The production was later increased as demand picked up. Sources said this is the fourth ramp-up in Creta’s production.
Renault Duster, which compares with the Creta in size and price, got a facelift. So did the EcoSport, the direct rival of Brezza, in addition to the price cut.
Often touted as India’s original SUV maker, Mahindra & Mahindra too sells TUV300 close to 2000 units in the same segment in addition to its latest launch NuvoSport, at prices comparable to the Brezza’s.