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Suzuki chief ferries Japanese dealers on `incentive' trip to India

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Mr Osamu Suzuki, Chairman & CEO, Suzuki Motor Corporation, with Mr Jagdish Khattar, Managing Director, Maruti Udyog Ltd, in the Capital on Tuesday. - Kamal Narang

New Delhi , Feb. 14

IS Suzuki Motor Corporation seeing India as its largest market in the coming years? This could be reason enough for the Chairman and CEO, Suzuki Motor Corporation, Mr Osamu Suzuki, to arrange 16 flights carrying about 2,400 top performing Japanese dealers to India. Mr Suzuki would be addressing these dealers in India in batches.

In his address to one batch on Tuesday here, Mr Suzuki is learnt to have asked the Japanese dealers to buck up, and said that there is a "race" on between the Indian and Japanese dealers. Suzuki Motors sold 7,00,000 cars in Japan in the last calendar year growing at 5 per cent, while in India the figure stood at 5,16,000 cars, a growth of 8.9 per cent over the previous year. Market analysts point out that at this rate sales in India can overtake Japan in two years' time.

Focus on growth: Mr Suzuki further stated that while dealerships in Japan (where dealerships follow a smaller format) sell about 200 cars per year, the figure stands at 200 cars per month for Indian dealers, adding that Japanese dealers need to focus on further growth.

He also recalled that when he had decided to invest about half of Suzuki Motor Corporation's yearly profit in India, many Japanese businessmen had expressed concern about making such large investments in India. "But I thought that Suzuki is not number one in Japan, so let's go to where we can be number one. We came to India and did it. Today we have an established base in India with a market share of 56 per cent in the passenger car segment. Today, all Japanese firms are impressed with Suzuki's performance in India," he added.

Performance pays: Meanwhile, the Japanese dealers, who are on an "incentive" trip to India, would be visiting Maruti facilities in Gurgaon and select Maruti dealerships to understand their processes and good practices. Each of them will also participate in Suzuki Dealers' Conference hosted by Mr Suzuki.

The visit of good performing dealers is also an indication of the importance that Suzuki attaches to India and to Maruti. Suzuki Motor Corporation and Maruti Udyog have decided to invest about Rs 6,000 crore in India by 2008. This includes investment in a new car plant, a diesel engine facility and in new models.

Apart from hosting dealers from Japan, Mr Suzuki is also visiting the Maruti plant and interacting with Maruti dealers and suppliers during his India trip.

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