By on July 5, 2010

Suzuki, Hyundai and Tata are the King Dongs (that WASN’T a spelling mistake, BTW) of India. Suzuki controls over half of the Indian car market. Hyundai and Tata have major chunks, too. Whatever is left is divided up amongst the smaller parties. But why have Indians put their rupees in the hands of Suzuki, Hyundai and Tata? National pride? Hardly. Suzuki and Hyundai come from a little further east. Nope. The reason is because they all excel in one thing. Small, cheap cars. The majority of Indians are relatively poor and don’t have much money to spend, so when they make a purchase as big as a car, it HAS to provide value (Indians LOVE a bargain as the video shows). If further proof were needed that India loves small, cheap cars, then this next story should put it beyond reasonable doubt.

The Hindu reports that Ford has had to add a second shift to its Chennai factory in order to keep up with demand for its Figo (The Figo being Ford’s car for the Indian market and other developing areas). “Yes, we have started our second production shift at our Chennai plant to meet the increasing demand for Figo,” said Nigel E. Wark, Ford India’s Executive director for Marketing and Sales, “Figo is getting a good response from the market and the company has received 24,000 purchase orders in the first four months of launch. This small car is helping to drive our sales growth.”

The second production will result in extra jobs being created. Michael Boneham, Ford India’s President and Managing Director aims to hire 600-700 extra staff.

To give you an idea of how in demand the Figo is, in June 2010 Ford sold 7,269 units. Up 267 percent from last year, when they sold only 1,982 units. Suzuki better watch out. There’s a new sheriff in town and his badge is blue.

P.S. Yes, the title of this article is probably my worst pun yet. But, hey, they don’t pay me enough!

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5 Comments on “And The Barber Of Chennai, Figo, Figo!...”

  • avatar

    Maruti Suzuki might have an element of national pride — the Maruti part was created to make a national champion, although it was only through the Suzuki part they sold cars.

    And the Indians I’ve talked to that sell steel to car companies refuse to touch Tatas. There was a study of road breakdowns and Tata won by a huge margin.

    The real mystery is why the Indian car market is SO different than the Chinese one. I suspect infrastructure is a huge part. Also, not sure how many cars in China come with a driver — which almost everyone in India uses at some point.

  • avatar


    Suzuki’s dominance of the Indian market is largely because they were the government’s partner in the Maruti venture to create an indigenous Indian car back in the early 1980s. It was Sanjay Gandhi’s pet project and his mother’s government backed the venture. The Indian gov’t started selling off it’s shares in 2003 and no longer owns any part of the company, of which Suzuki now owns majority share.

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    Mr Schreiber,

    I’ve no idea why you’re speaking to Herr Schmitt, when I wrote the article.

    Please don’t forget that “Maruti” is also a name for “Hanuman”, a well liked God in India. So, that could be another reason for its dominance. Good marketing. Though, I strongly suspect, it’s because they do cheap, small cars very well. If they didn’t, Hyundai, Tata and Ford would eat them alive. There’s no shortage of competition in India.

  • avatar

    Whenever I ask myself how in the heck Suzuki can still be breathing when it hardly sells any cars in the U.S., I need look no further than…the rest of the world for the answer; particularly India. It’s a shame the marketing efforts for the Kizashi (and its concept-to-reality execution) led to such underwhelming results.

  • avatar

    Well, I thought the pun was funny, if that makes a difference.

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