PM Modi played a key role in the 40-year legacy of Suzuki in India

Back in 1982, when Japanese automaker Suzuki signed a JV with a new government-owned Maruti Udyog, neither party could have predicted the future they would create and the kind of success this partnership would bring. In the last 40 years, not only has Maruti Suzuki become a household name in the country, they have changed the face of mobility on Indian roads. During these 40 years, the company has managed to frequently outsell its competitors and top sales charts.
“In many ways, these 40 years and this partnership have resulted in things happening which were not at all foreseen 40 years ago. This has surprised most people who were around at the time when we started. Not in India alone, I think people in Japan were equally surprised by what happened in India. They did not expect this to happen.”
These were the words of RC Bhargava, Chairman of Maruti Suzuki and a veteran of the automotive industry who has been with the company these past 40 years. He further recounted, “Mr Suzuki told me once that when he decided to partner with India, he was the only person in favour of it.”
The statement makes you think about what would have been the current state of the Indian automotive industry had this decision not been made all those years ago. However, this is not the only time when a small decision has set the course of the company to brighter days. A similar thing happened in 2011 when the company was looking to expand its operations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a big role in giving Suzuki another platform to grow and flourish.
This connection from a decade ago fits perfectly with the present when the PM has been called as the chief guest for the 40th-anniversary celebration of Suzuki in India. RC Bhargava said, “For an event like this, the 40-year anniversary of Suzuki (in India), the Prime Minister, who is so busy and has so many things to attend to, he is still finding time to attend this meeting. This is something we feel very proud about.”
“We have always had support from him (Narendra Modi). Our entry into Gujrat and the Suzuki Gujrat plant here would not have happened if Mr Modi at that time had not been the Chief Minister. He is really responsible for this happening and that has been followed by so many things happening in Gujrat.”
Explaining the reason behind his gratitude towards the former CM of Gujrat, RC Bhargava said, “When Mr Modi was in Gujrat, a lot of industrial activity took place in the state.” Back then the company had a plant in Manesar, Haryana but was looking at expanding its operations. While they initially did not have any particular state in mind, they decided to go with Gujrat due to two reasons. “One was the fact that the state administration at that time appeared to be by far the most industry-friendly administration anywhere in the country. That is why people were coming to Gujrat, things were happening and what we understood was that things were happening quickly.” Acquiring land and facilities from a state can be a tricky affair and a long-drawn one too. The people at Maruti Suzuki saw the state of Gujrat promoting setting up of businesses with relative ease, making it fertile ground for their new facility.
RC Bhargava continued to say, “The second was of course the fact that Gujrat was close to the port from where we were exporting cars. Exports have always been an important part of our operations, though not a very large volume but still, it was very important in many ways for us.” Naturally, producing vehicles close to the port would save on logistics costs and was yet another factor that played in the favour of the state.
RC Bhargava said that the company was amazed to see a government that was looking at the problems faced by industries and was taking active steps to remove any roadblocks along the way. This was something they had not previously witnessed with other administrations. “Suddenly we found that here was a government that is saying that manufacturing growth was the key to India’s progress.”
He also praised the Prime Minister and other Ministers under him for their vocal support for the private sector and their acknowledgement of the fact that the manufacturing sector has to grow in order to create more employment opportunities for the masses. “All these things made us think that India is changing, India has become different again and there is hope for the future.”
The Suzuki Motor Gujrat plant is tasked with producing key models like the Baleno, Swift and Dzire. Along with this, the facility also looks after manufacturing powerplants. The facility is owned by Suzuki and supplies vehicles to Maruti Suzuki at no additional cost. It recently reached a milestone of producing 2 million units in a span of less than six years. Thanks to the policy reforms and other industry-focused initiatives by PM Modi, the company has been able to achieve such feats.
Maruti Suzuki was the brand that brought the dream of owning a car closer to reality for the common man. They have ruled the market and the entry-level segment over the years with successful products like the original Maruti 800, Zen, Alto and Wagon R. While that specific segment might be shrinking in volume, Maruti Suzuki has expanded their portfolio with bigger vehicles and a premium dealership network under Nexa. RC Bhargava is confident that the company will continue to do well in the coming years and they will be ready to deliver what the customers want.

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