Suzuki plans expansion in India


Tokyo : Japanese small-car maker Suzuki Motor Corp plans to further boost its leading position in the Indian market by doubling the number of its dealers there by 2010, the Nikkei financial newspaper reported Friday.

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By increasing its dealers to about 1,000, Suzuki said it plans to raise its sales to 1 million units, thereby defending its 50 percent market share and making the subcontinent its primary market, the newspaper said without indicating the source of the information.

Growth for the auto industry in India was estimated at 10 percent annually, making it a prime target for other foreign carmakers. Among Japanese manufacturers, Toyoto Motor Corp, Honda Motor Co and Nissan Motor Corp plan to open new factories in the country by 2010, the Nikkei reported.

From January to November this year, Suzuki saw its Indian sales rise 21 percent to 653,000 cars as against the figure for the same period a year ago.

With full-year sales expected at 700,000, Suzuki was on track for the first time to sell more cars in a foreign market than its domestic one, where it expected to sell 680,000 units, the Nikkei said.

Of the $3.5 billion (400 billion yen) Suzuki plans to spend on its expansion in India, a quarter of it is to go to strengthening its dealership network, the report said.

The company, which plans to export cars with 1,000-cubic-centimetre engines from India to Europe, initially plans no expansion of its production capacity in the South Asian country.

“We’ll carefully watch market trends in India and Europe and make a decision in one to one and a half years,” Shinzo Nakanishi, the new president of Suzuki’s Indian subsidiary, Maruti Suzuki India, told the Nikkei.