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Auto Expo: Maruti launches Jimny, Fronx with eye on booming SUV market

Bookings have already opened for both markets at Nexa showrooms

jimny-fronx Maruti Jimny and Fronx | Sanjay Ahlawat

Maruti Suzuki launched two SUVs at the Auto Expo on Thursday morning, as part of a larger strategy to pivot away India’s biggest car maker from its staple small cars into the in-vogue category of SUVs.

The launches include the eagerly anticipated Jimny, a 5-door all-terrain vehicle that is set to prove a challenger to Mahindra’s domination of the segment with ‘Thar’. Jimny has been one of parent company Suzuki’s most popular models, having sold 3-2 million units across 199 countries since the 1970s. The new model Jimny is being launched in India first globally.

The other SUV Maruti is bringing to the market is the compact SUV Fronx, aimed at the affordable youth market. Bookings have already opened for both markets at Nexa showrooms.

“The new sporty compact SUV Fronx will set the trend for a shape of new SUVs in the country (while) the much-awaited Jimny with its legendary off-roading prowess offer an authentic motoring experience both on and off road,” said Maruti MD & CEO Hisashi Takeuchi.

The SUV market had come out of nowhere in recent years to capture 45 per cent of the passenger car market as of last month. It caught Maruti, which had focused its attention on small cars all this while, out of step, since it only had one SUV, the Brezza, in its portfolio.

In recent months, the company has been trying real hard to make amends and extend its leadership position in the market into the SUV segment as well. It refurbished and relaunched its premium SUV offering Grand Vitara (a tech tie-up with Toyota helps), besides recently launching an updated model of Brezza.

“If you remove SUVs, then our market share improves and crosses 65 per cent, but with SUVs, our market share drops below 45 per cent, which means SUV is our weak area,” said Shashank Srivastava, senior executive director of Maruti in an interview with THE WEEK earlier this week. “That’s clearly an idea we need to strengthen ourselves.”

On the eve of the Auto Expo, while there were 46 SUV models in the market, Maruti just had two. With two more joining its lineup today, the company will be hoping to muscle its way up the SUV sweepstakes, despite the late entry.

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