Atleast 120,000 customers are in the queue for Maruti’s bestsellers, the Swift and its sedan counterpart Dzire, and even though the production of these cars has been interrupted by the lockout at the company’s factories in Manesar, bookings have not stopped.
Moreover, not a single customer has cancelled bookings after the madness of last Wednesday, as Maruti’s rivals such as Hyundai, Tata, Ford, Toyota, and General Motors try to push their own vehicles.
“I would wait for and support Maruti till its back with the production,” said Aval Sethi, who works as vice-president at a multi national company. He has booked a Dzire. “I do not trust any other manufacturer. I have been with Maruti since my first car in the 80s. Loyalty means not running away in hard times.”
The resilience of the two brands, which form the bulk of production at Manesar, has taken even the company by surprise. Maruti is now confident of a strong comeback once the factories become operational.
“The Swift and Dzire are bestsellers for years despite strong competition and so many new models entering the fray,” said Mayank Pareek, chief operating officer (marketing and sales), Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. “The tragedy notwithstanding, we will bounce back strongly from this just like we did last year after strikes at Manesar.”
Aware that the two cars would be in short supply in the next few months, rivals are looking to poach on Maruti’s customers. At present, the Swift has 55,000 outstanding bookings, while Dzire has a backlog of 65,000 units.
“Bookings are still pouring in everyday even though consumers know there is a lock out,” said Pareek. “That shows the strength of these brands. We have also written to them and told them about the situation firsthand. I believe they will understand and support us.”
During last year’s labour unrest at the Manesar factories, when production was crippled intermittently over almost three months, the demand for Swift and Dzire had ebbed but surged after production normalised (see graph). From an average of 12,000 units per month, sales of the Swift went up to over 18,000 units, peaking at 20,739 units in February. Similarly, Dzire sales went up from around 10,000 units to 15,000 units per month.