Life has come full circle for Maruti Suzuki after 32 years.
It was in December 1983 that Suzuki took a leap of faith with a joint venture with Maruti and India rolled out its first car with the expertise of the Japanese car maker. It is December 2015 and Suzuki wants to import cars from India — around 30,000 a year to begin with.
Announcing the historic move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said India will for the “first time” export to Japan cars made domestically by Maruti Suzuki under the Make in India initiative. If all goes as planned, Maruti Suzuki will export India-made Baleno to Japan from January.
Maruti Suzuki chairman RC Bhargava said exporting automobiles to Japan was “not an easy task” and set a target of shipping out 20,000 to 30,000 units a year.
Suzuki’s association with India began when the Suzuki Fronte SS caught the eye of Sanjay Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi at the 1969 Asia Highway Rally in New Delhi. Inviting over the Suzuki team for a chat, the brothers proposed the Japanese carmarker partner in a “people’s car” project they were planning to start. After months of negotiation, India got and fell in love with the humble Maruti 800.
Maruti Suzuki has managed to maintain the lead in the Indian car market despite tough competition from Hyundai and Toyota. Every second car sold in the country is a Maruti.