Jimny to accelerate lifestyle SUV market, Maruti to explore supplies to armed forces
Jimny, an all-wheel drive SUV is designed specifically for the Indian market with an investment of Rs 950 crore.
Maruti Suzuki, the country’s largest car maker, expects the lifestyle SUV Jimny to boost its SUV imagery and help accelerate its penetration in the fastest growing segment, where it is gunning for the leadership position in FY24.
Jimny, an all-wheel drive SUV is designed specifically for the Indian market with an investment of Rs 950 crore. The four-by-four vehicle can traverse tough and diverse terrains of the country and hence the model may also be offered to the Indian armed forces, which has relied on the iconic Gypsy for decades, said the senior company executives.
Maruti Suzuki, a small car expert has redoubled its effort in the SUV segment, with the launch of four new SUVs in the past one year — a facelifted Brezza, the Grand Vitara, the Fronx and now the Jimny. With these, the leading car maker straddles across price points to quickly seize back its lost share in the highly competitive Indian passenger vehicle market.
Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Officer, Sales and Marketing at Maruti Suzuki says, “As the market matures and volumes grow, various sub-segments emerge. Even within the compact SUVs, multiple sub-segments have been created. That is, entry SUVs (like Tata Punch and Renault Kiger), the crossover and urban SUVs like Fronx and Brezza and then there are lifestyle SUVs (like the Mahindra Thar and Force Gurkha). With the launch of Jimny, the lifestyle SUV market should double.”
The SUVs have become the largest segment in the Indian market. They now account for 45 percent of the passenger vehicle market and have now overtaken the humble hatchbacks, which so far was Maruti Suzuki’s core. Within that, the compact SUV is the highest sub-segment accounting for a quarter of the overall SUV sales. During FY23, about 8.7 lakh units of compact SUVs were sold and Jimny is going to sit right in the heart of this sub-segment.
“At the moment, the lifestyle SUV is an emerging segment with about 50,000 units per annum. It is preferred by users who love to go off-roading, who love to travel across terrains. But there is a profile of buyers in the urban areas who want to bring some style in their life, who would want to own a vehicle like Jimny, as a style or a status symbol which could drive the growth of this sub-segment,” added Srivastava.
Jimny may not be a big volume contributor in this goal, however it will play an important role in building the imagery around Maruti’s ability of delivering capable SUVs at a time when there are a large number of SUV alternatives available for prospective buyers.
A Unique Variant
While the off-roader from Maruti is being launched in June, so far over three million three door Jimnys have been sold across 199 countries in the past few decades.
Maruti Suzuki did explore the possibility of launching a three door Jimny, but there was a resounding 'no' from the customers and almost 99 percent of them demanded a five door Jimny, which was developed exclusively for the Indian market.
Unlike a more efficient K15C engine, the Jimny will be powered by the previous generation K15B engine which is skewed more towards performance than efficiency. The model will serve a dual purpose of addressing a need gap in the market and will also have a positive image rub off for Maruti who can also deliver a capable SUV as part of its target to achieve SUV leadership.
"Jimny will further enhance our credentials in the SUV segment," says Srivastava, adding that the pace of growth in the SUV market surprised Maruti and with the expansion of portfolio, the company is trying to address a larger customer base and capitalise on the shift in favour of SUVs.
Maruti Suzuki was the Number Five SUV maker in FY23 with a market share of 12 percent. With the incremental volumes of Fronx and the Grand Vitara, the April SUV market share has already scaled to 19 percent and it has broken into the top three SUV makers. Srivastava is confident of grabbing the Number One SUV maker position by the end of FY24 with 25 percent market share.
To be launched in the first week of June, Maruti Suzuki has already secured over 30,000 units bookings for the model. Already 1,000 vehicles have been produced and deliveries should begin in a few weeks. About 50 percent of its bookings are for the automatic variant and the rest are for manual.
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