Maruti Suzuki Marketing Head Shashank Srivastava is circumspect about making predictions in the current economic environment, even as demand recovers for Maruti Suzuki. "If we see consumer demand as reflected in inquiries and bookings in retail, I would say we are at 85% to 90% of the pre-COVID time."
He noted that in the long term, steady demand recovery will depend on the economy because "automobile sales are related to income levels." Relatedly, management noted that there is an uptick in inquiries for smaller car models - "it's around 65% as against 55%, 56% in the past".
"I keep saying that you could see a vaccine upside or you could see a virus downside," Srivastava added. The most affected states in terms of Maruti sales have been because of state-level lockdowns in Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. So additional lockdowns due to uncontrolled virus spread in states would considerably impact demand. A vaccine however, would allow substantial relaxation in restrictions.
Maruti Suzuki has recently tied up with Toyota to target international markets, and management says that they are bullish about exports "in the medium term". The tie up will give Maruti deeper access into markets in Africa and Asia, the company said. In addition, Maruti says it has focused on keeping cash flows for dealers manageable via cash advances, interest subsidies, etc. "If you see the last 3 years, according to the FADA, there have been about 370 dealers who have closed. Out of which Maruti had, I think, 14. So that's a very good sign as far as profitability of Maruti Suzuki dealers is concerned."