when most automobile industry honchos were busy attending the Geneva Motor Show, the heads of two Japanese carmakers made a flying visit to the Indian capital. The only item on their agenda was a meeting with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explain their joint plans for the country under a business partnership the companies announced late last year. The timing was propitious as campaigning had just ended in Uttar Pradesh, and one the first appointments given were to the captains of the two Japnese carmakers.As the discussion veered towards pure hybrid and electric vehicles, Toyota Motor president Akio Toyoda and Suzuki Motor chairman Osamu Suzuki told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that they would come up with new technologies for India and also possibly make those vehicles here for the export markets, people in the know of the matter said.The Toyota-Suzuki partnership could prove to be a boon for all involved at a time when India is tightening regulations over vehicular emission and pushing for greener technologies. They could harness Toyota’s expertise in manufacturing and technology, and Suzuki’s deep understanding of the Indian market through unit Maruti SuzukiBSE -0.51 % to make products that meet India’s requirements — primarily vehicles that offer value for money. The stakes are particularly high.
Suzuki is targeting to do better and bigger here.This has led to massive investments in Maruti Suzuki in the last three years. “India clearly is at the centre of discussion (at Suzuki) … be it on electric or hybrid technology or even partnership discussions. With strong support from the parent, Maruti wants to be ready when the hybridisation wave starts in the country,” said a person associated with the company. Such focus on technology, products as well as services makes customers like Samir Ghosh of Kolkata stick to the Maruti brand.Ghosh, a 58-year-old businessman, learnt to drive in a Maruti 800 in the 1980s and since has purchased only Maruti vehicles. “I am familiar with the brand, their cars are valuefor-money, deliver well on fuel efficiency. Most importantly, servicing their cars are easy hassle-free,” he said.
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