The long-reigning monarch of small cars, Maruti Suzuki is now the lord of all it surveys – beyond its bailiwick. Three decades after the Japanese carmaker introduced modern personal transport in India, Maruti has stepped past compact cars to establish its leadership credentials in upscale segments of the automotive market in a journey that accurately reflects the South Asian nation’s rising economic profile — and its shifting consumer choice. In the year ended March 2017, Maruti was the market leader in sedans, crossovers, SUVs, and vans — besides small cars. And just as it had dethroned the manufacturers of Padmini Fiat and Ambassador three decades ago to emerge as the leader, Maruti is now edging out well-entrenched and fancied rivals that had largely identified the company as the maker of no-frills, 796-cc passenger vehicles meant for hick towns. To be sure, the numbers had always favoured Maruti in a price-sensitive market, where the company sells one out of every two cars. But its earlier attempts to break into the more profitable, mid-sized sedan market with SX4 and Kizashi had met multiple speed-bumps. In the financial year just gone by, however, the script changed after Ciaz, Maruti’s latest sedan, edged out the old warhorse and Honda City.
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