With ‘Invicto’, Maruti set to drive into Rs 20+ lakh segment for first time

Maruti Suzuki is set to launch a new multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) — Invicto — next month. It will be the company’s first passenger vehicle with an ex-showroom price tag of Rs 20 lakh or more, said Shashank Srivastava, executive director (sales), on Tuesday.

The upcoming MPV will compete with the likes of Toyota Innova Hycross, Kia Carnival, Hyundai Alcazar, MG Hector Plus, Tata Safari, Mahindra & Mahindra XUV700, and Mahindra & Mahindra Scorpio-N – all having three rows of seats.

Invicto will be based on the Hycross by Toyota, which will manufacture Maruti’s most expensive car at its Bidadi plant in Karnataka.

Five years ago, Toyota Motor and Suzuki Motor entered into a global alliance that involved sharing and cross-badging of models and technologies.

But how will production for Maruti Suzuki work out, considering that Toyota in April suspended bookings for top-end variants of the Innova Hycross due to supply chain challenges?

“It would work something like the Grand Vitara (sister model of the Toyota Hyryder).

“Both the Hyryder and the Vitara have waiting periods but we are distributing the production between Toyota and Maruti Suzuki on a rolling projection basis after discussions.

“And that is what we will do for the Invicto, too,” Srivastava replied.

Maruti Suzuki currently sells two MPVs — Ertiga and XL6 — and their sales were affected by the semiconductor chip shortage.

Since demand has remained strong, the waiting period for both cars remains high.

Cars in the Rs 20+ lakh segment with three rows of seats witnessed domestic sales of 258,000 units in 2022-23; this figure is expected to reach 300,000 units in 2023-24.

“Therefore, we want to participate in this segment with Invicto,” Srivastava told Business Standard in an interview.

He further noted: “In the three-row premium segment, Scorpio-N is the market leader. Its domestic sales stood at about 76,000 units in FY23. XUV700 was at the second spot with domestic sales of about 66,000 units in FY23.

“Innova’s sales stood at about 55,000 units.

“Alcazar was about 26,000 units. Safari was about 20,000 units.”

When asked if Maruti Suzuki would be shifting towards this segment, he said that at the moment, the focus is on Invicto and the company will see how it can “make a dent” in this category.

Srivastava then gave the example of how the company quickly grew in the Rs 10-15 lakh segment.

“When we went into the Rs 10-15 lakh segment, people pointed out that we are very strong in sales of cars that were in the below Rs 10 lakh category.

“But then, we quickly became the leader in the Rs 10-15 lakh category,” he stated.

“In the Rs 10-15 lakh category, we are now the leader with about 30 per cent share, recorded in April and May with the introduction of Ertiga (updated models), XL6 (updated models), Grand Vitara, Jimny, and so on, from FY22 onwards.

“We had almost 0 per cent share in the Rs 10-15 lakh category in FY21,” Srivastava explained.

Is the company aiming to become a leader in the Rs 20 lakh and above segment, too?

“We are followers in the Rs 20+ lakh segment. I don’t want to sound arrogant because this (Invicto) is just one product and we will see how it does (perform). Obviously, it is a challenge,” the senior executive replied.

The Rs 20+ lakh segment accounted for just 1 per cent in 2020-21 of total industry.

“This category is now 5 per cent,” he said.

“We were earlier looking at a three-row SUV (sport utility vehicle) and a three-row MPV, separately, but the more we researched, we found the requirements of customers to be similar, so we are launching an MPV,” he noted.

Asked how many Invicto cars the company expected to produce in FY24, Srivastava replied: “We will have to wait and see.

“Once we announce the price, we will see how much the stable demand from consumers is.

“That will give us an idea about the waiting period and the production needed.

“We will start its bookings on June 19.”

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