NEW DELHI: Maruti Suzuki chairman RC Bhargava said despite the downturn the company will continue investments in new product development and capacity expansion as scheduled to strengthen its leadership position in the country.Addressing shareholders at the 38th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Maruti Suzuki, Bhargava said, “We will bring in a number of new products, the investments for which are on track. The second line at our manufacturing unit in Gujarat is fully operational. The third line will be commissioned in the first quarter of the next year. Production will be aligned to market demand.”In response to a query on new entrants Kia and MG Motor reportedly receiving robust bookings for SUVs Seltos and Hector, Bhargava said the company is working on covering the segment adequately. “Demand for SUVs in India is growing rapidly. Only recently, we introduced the XL6. We recognise the importance of SUVs and will work to ensure that the market is adequately covered”, he said. Automobile manufacturers the past few weeks have launched a series of models, particularly in the utility vehicle segment, to revive falling sales amid weak consumer sentiments. It is true that sales have declined across categories but the fall in the demand for passenger cars has been steeper at 26% than for UVs (where wholesale volumes dropped 7% between April-July 2019).Bhargava said the slowdown being witnessed currently is different from those seen previously as amid this downturn when the affordability of middle-class consumers has been impacted severely, the cost of purchasing a car has gone up significantly due to upgraded safety norms, enhanced emission standards and higher insurance costs.Bhargava added apart from the centre, state governments should adopt measures to ensure industrial development and wealth creation to help revive demand in the local automobile market.
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