“We have added many first-in-segment features in the new Brezza. Which we believe will also address this new consumer criteria which has emerged in the last few years,” says Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director (Marketing & Sales), Maruti Suzuki

Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director (Marketing & Sales), Maruti Suzuki tells us about the new Maruti Suzuki Brezza, before its launch on June 30
Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director (Marketing & Sales), Maruti Suzuki
Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director (Marketing & Sales), Maruti SuzukiMaruti Suzuki

The much awaited and facelifted 2022 Maruti Suzuki Brezza is all set to launch on June 30. Maruti has opened bookings for the revised SUV, for an amount of Rs 11,000, today and Shashank Srivastava, the Senior Executive Director (Marketing & Sales) of the company tells us what’s new and what are the major changes made to the new Brezza for it to keep selling like hotcakes.

Sirish Chandran: Tell us more about the new Maruti Suzuki Brezza

Shashank Srivastava: Okay first i'll talk about the segment quickly, so that you get a basic common sort of a platform, I’m sure in the last couple of days you have heard about this segment a lot more from a lot of manufacturers, but nevertheless I will quickly summarise. Basically five trends I would like to point out in this segment which we have observed in the last five-six years. First of all the entry SUV segment, the compact SUV segment has become the largest segment in the industry. For the first time last year, it was about 22 per cent of the market. In 2015-2016, this was just 5 per cent of the market. So thats one big thing that we’ve observed and this trend seems to be continuing that in the last two months i.e. April and May looks like, for this quarter overall as well. That’s one. Previously of course the premium hatch segment was the largest 23 - 24 per cent of the market. It came down to about 21 per cent of the market. It’s the second largest, still, the premium hatchback segment. That’s the first thing which we observed. In the mid-size SUV segment, the growth in 2015-2016 was about 11 per cent of the market, which has now grown to about 18 per cent, so that’s also grown and that is the reason why the overall SUV segment has also grown from about 17 per cent to now almost 40 per cent of the market in last year i.e. 2021-2022. That’s one.

The second trend that we observed in this segment is that it has become more fragmented. I'm talking about the entry-level compact-SUV category. So earlier in 2015-2016, the Maruti Brezza and Ford EcoSport used to be the two major models, doing almost 62-63 per cent of the market. It was between these two. However, now, we have a large number of models which have come in. In fact 2021-2022 saw the entry of 15 new models in this segment. The compact-SUV segment. Of course leading to the fragmentation of volume and also of market share. Now those models include some of the recently introduced ones in the last three years, like the Renault Kiger, Nissan Magnite, Tata Punch, Hyundai Venue, Kia Sonet and they are all doing well because the segment itself as I told you has increased dramatically. However, the Brezza, which has been the market leader in the segment, continues to do very good volumes. Despite the fact that it moved out the diesel completely in 2019. It's the only car in this category with a 1.5-litre petrol engine. Last year we sold about 115,000 units. Now, the segment saw only three models that sold over 100,00 units. The Hyundai Venue, about 105,000, The Tata Nexon and the Brezza about 115,000 units. The Sonet which was the fourth did about 74,000 units. And then you have a large number of smaller players doing about 30,000 - 40,000 units. About 33,000 units were sold of the Nissan Magnite and 29,000 of the Renault Kiger. So the second trend is this fragmentation. The third trend which we observed is that there has been a shift towards the petrol variants in this segment. If you look at 2015-2016, almost 80 per cent was diesel and 20 per cent was petrol.

Now, it's the other way around. 79 per cent petrol and 21 per cent diesel. So that's a huge shift. Of course led by not only the Brezza, because we have shifted completely from diesel to petrol, but also a large percentage of the competitor models are now sold in petrol variants. That is the third trend that we observed. The fourth segment that we observed is that in this segment the consumer has become more affluent and younger. So the industry benchmark for measuring the youth of the consumer is what percentage of the cars are sold to people who are less than 35 years of age. In the case of Brezza, 47-48 per cent of the buyers are less than 35 years old. It used to be around 30 per cent in 2015-2016. Now, 50 per cent of the buyers are in this category. So they become more younger and affluent. The fifth trend is the buying criteria change and that is important I believe. The buying criteria in 2015-2016 was more about design, the brand and mileage. The fourth and newer criteria that has been added is the preference of features and technology. And the new Brezza is actually addressing that change in consumers. While those three thing still remain very strong; the Brezza’s design is still very sophisticated, elegant and strong, the brand i.e. Maruti Suzuki still remains very important, its after sales service etc. Third, the mileage has become better for the new Brezza. It has now become about 20kmpl. And fourth is that criteria of technology and features. We’ve added a whole lot of new technology. The important thing is that while the Brezza in that era i.e. 2015-2022 was very successful, as you know it was awarded the iCOTY in 2017, it was also the most awarded car in 2017 with 25 auto awards which is the highest across any product, so while it was very strong and still a large seller; we sell about 10,000 units a month, but we wanted to address this new criteria of buying which is about technology. Therefore we have added many first-in-segment features like a Heads-Up-Display (HUD). There’s no vehicle in this segment which has got an HUD. Secondly, we’ve added a 360 degree view camera which is also not there in this segment across the industry. Third is the telescopic steering. Then there are many features that consumers said that Maruti should introduce, which isn’t really a first time in the industry, but first time for a Maruti. Like electric sunroof, wireless charging etc. And this is backed by the engine which now comes with ISG and dual-VVT. So its slightly improved, with much better fuel efficiency because of the mild hybrid technology. A six-speed automatic transmission, six airbags, you also have ESP with hill-hold assist etc So in that sense it has gotten a lot of features including the new-gen Suzuki Connect.

Those are the many things which we have added, which we believe will also address this new consumer criteria which has emerged in the last few years. And in line with that we have also done a bit of a repositioning. Earlier the tagline was wickedly smooth, wicked in a good sense, not in a sense you being wicked, and we’ve now changed it to hot and techy. So that is something that we have introduced and it's about a more adventure and urban lifestyle sort of vehicle. That change we will be doing in our marketing campaign. This is what is broadly there for the new Brezza. We’ve opened the bookings today in the morning, and we have about 20,000+ bookings of the previous and existing Brezza and we hope by the time we launch it, which is on the 30th of this month, we will have a lot of fresh bookings for this new Brezza.

SC: Have you stopped production of the current Brezza? And will those 20,000 existing bookings be moved to the new Brezza?

SS: Yes, we’ve stopped production of the old Brezza and yes the 20,000 bookings will be moved to the new Brezza, apart from some of the remaining stock that will be delivered against these bookings. A very low stock, as you know throughout the last two years has been low.

SC: I remember with the earlier Brezza you had a lot of the customisation options. So you could put the stickers on the car, different colours, dual-tone options. Does all of that continue with the new Brezza?

SS: Yes, those will continue. As I said, those other criteria still remain very important. Those design elements, those requirements of the consumer in terms of the mileage, brand etc will continue.

SC: In terms of the platform, has it become a little bigger or more spacious?

SS: Yes it is actually, i'll give you the exact details once we launch it, including the price and everything else. I just wanted to tell you about the new positioning and what new features we’ve added.

Aatish Mishra: You were talking about how this segment has fragmented, this whole compact SUV segment. Do you see the potential for a small SUV under the Brezza? You have the Ignis which you market as an SUV, but it is a hatch. Do you see something like the Tata Punch,fitting in?

SS: As you know what we’ve seen in the past is that whenever a segment becomes big, sub-segments emerge which business wise can give you volumes good enough for manufacturers to look into that sub-segment. For example; earlier in cars there was only 800cc. So it didn’t matter whether you were a businessman, politician, large family, small family, office goer etc you had the Maruti 800 and the Ambassador and as the market expanded the sub-segments emerged. You had the premium hatch coming, small sedans, the large sedans, the MPV segment growing. So as the volumes increased, new segments emerged defining the different usages which consumers wanted. So if you had a large family wanting to travel often, you had the Toyota Innova or the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and so on. So similarly, within the segment what we’ve seen is sub-segments being emerged which sort of specifically address the requirements of that sub-segments. So you are right. Earlier we used to talk about SUVs only in terms of Mahindra Boleros and Scorpios etc, and those weren’t really a city sort of SUVs, weren’t ever considered to be a city car, but are now very much urban. So the sub-segments have emerged. Bolero and Scorpio type of vehicles were semi urban or rural market type of cars and that still exists, but now you have an urban category and within urban a lifestyle segment for example the Thar which is of course another segment. So you could have segments emerging which will give you enough volumes and manufacturers to be interested in that sense. So what you’re asking is possible, you have the Magnite, Punch and Ignis which is smaller, which is about that 3.6-3.7m type. You could also have the Jimny which falls under the similar type of category which is something which we’re examining and as you know we displayed it at the 202 Auto expo in Delhi and we’re finalising the feedback which we’ve received. So those sub-segments can emerge. The three-row SUV segment is also emerging, so as the SUV segment is increasing you will see the emergence of this segment. People say that in other developed countries, you’ve seen SUV crossover type of vehicles, so yes, that would probably happen sometime in India as well.

AM: Will the new Brezza get CNG? Is this something that will happen from the time of the launch?

SS: So 9 out of the total 15 vehicles in our portfolio have CNG and we were planning to have more vehicles, because CNG is really in demand. But unfortunately we were not able to supply the CNG vehicles for the bookings in the models which we already have CNG. So we were thinking earlier to expand this portfolio, but till the time we have the CNG availability getting better, I think we have to wait and then we’ll have to and then see which models we can introduce with CNG, beyond the nine that we already have.

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