1987 marked a very special year for both Maruti as well as our nation with the export of a first lot of 500 cars to Hungary. One can almost feel the jubilation that the workers of MUL must have felt in gaining acceptance in Europe, the very Mecca of automotive engineering. 1992 was a year of major overhaul in MUL with Suzuki increasing its shares to 50 %.
There are some brands that reflect the story of a nation, its rises and falls, its successes and failures. Maruti is one such brand. If the blue wings symbolising this brand could talk, what a story it would tell! It would speak about a country’s first venture into the cutthroat field of automobile manufacturing, it would tell us about the blood and sweat that transformed this brand into the global phenomenon that it now is but most of all, it would tell us that India took its first steps into the modern world along with it.
The story of this brand begins in 1981 when Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) was incorporated under the provisions of Indian Companies Act, 1956. The Govt of India selected Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) as their partner in this joint venture. There is an interesting story behind this unlikely choice. Almost all major brands had announced their interest in this venture that would give them an entry into the virgin Indian market and in the initial meetings; all the companies were represented by their CEO’s. However the latter details were handled by executives of the respective companies, with one exception. The then CEO of Suzuki, Mr Osamu Suzuki ensured that he attended every single meeting personally. He later on went to say that this sign of dedication was probably what got them the contract!
In 1982 the agreement was signed between the Indian Govt and SMC and MUL was finally born. Within thirteen months of its inception, MUL launched the Maruti 800, a 796 cc hatchback model car. The legend goes that the then Prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi herself handed over the keys to the first customer, Mr Harpal Singh. Twenty five years later, he still uses the same car. Between the years 1973 to 1983, the Indian car market had seen a total sale of 35 000 vehicles. Maruti 800 was to completely revolutionise this market reaching a total production of 1 million vehicles within March 1994. Again in 1984, the Omni was launched and was an instant success. Convenient and spacious, it was exactly what the up and coming business class in India wanted. This was followed by the launch of the Gypsy the next year. India’s first off road vehicle, it is still the best to do the Himalayan rally, ‘Raid de Himalaya’.
1987 marked a very special year for both Maruti as well as our nation with the export of a first lot of 500 cars to Hungary. One can almost feel the jubilation that the workers of MUL must have felt in gaining acceptance in Europe, the very Mecca of automotive engineering. 1992 was a year of major overhaul in MUL with Suzuki increasing its shares to 50 %. The next major milestone in the story of this brand is the launch of Maruti Zen. The following years saw the launch of the Esteem, crossing of the two million mark as well as the launch of Maruti Service Master as a model workshop. Things continued pretty much in the same vein until the year 1999.
This was the year Hyundai and Daewoo arrived with their flagship brands Santro and Matiz and suddenly Maruti was under siege. Further trouble came in the form of Telco, India’s second largest automobile maker who challenged Maruti for non compliance with Euro2 emission norms. A besieged MUL reported a loss of 269 crores in 2000. But Maruti came back, with a vengeance. Suzuki responded aggressively to Telco’s allegations and out came the newer, zippier 800 fully compliant with all norms. This was followed by the launch of Maruti Alto as well as the Institute of Driving Training & Research (IDTR) in Delhi. 2001 saw a nice, tidy little profit of Rs 104.5 crores. To round things of nicely, three more branches were launched, Maruti True Value where customers could obtain genuine spare parts, Maruti Finance and Maruti Insurance. The cherry on top of the gorgeously iced cake that was 2000 was definitely the launch of Versa.
In 2002 the Indian govt divested the rest of its shares in MUL and SMC acquired a majority stake of 54.2%.The following year, the company was listed in the BSE and NSE, and saw the IPO issue being oversubscribed 11.2 times. The following years saw the launch of the redesigned versions of Zen and Esteem as well as the launch of Swift, WagonR and Estilo. 2007 was again a trademark year, with the launch of three new brands – Swift diesel, SX4 and Grand Vitara, start of a new plant in Haryana and the official transition of Maruti Udyog Limited to Maruti Suzuki India Limited.
2008 saw the premiere of the concept car A star as well as the launch of Dzire. This year saw the company featuring among the world’s 200 most reputed companies as well as coming fourth in the passenger car sector. It would also be the ninth year running when the brand received the JD Power customer satisfaction award. This year would also, (phew!!!!) mark the sale of 7.5 million units of Maruti cars. 2009 would prove to be no less important to Maruti with Swift becoming the fastest car to cross the 3 lakh limit as well as the launch of their 50th driving school. 2008 – 2009 would also see the highest number of exports in the history of the brand. What more is there to be said?
So, what does the future hold??? The future holds nothing but wings for Maruti and it’s a sure bet that this brand will continue to soar. Makes a good equity investment tip too!