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30 years of Maruti

14th Dec 2013 6:44 pm

On Maruti's thirtieth anniversary, we give you some lesser known facts about this revolutionary car maker.


Thirty years ago, on this very day, the keys to a special little car, the first Maruti 800, were handed over to Harpal Singh by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. From a company that materialised purely through a twist of fate, to becoming India’s largest carmaker, it has been a theatrical ride for Maruti. Here are some lesser known facts about Maruti Udyog Limited – the company that revolutionised the Indian auto industry and ingrained the ‘sapna’ of car ownership in the minds of the middle-class Indian.

  • In 1970, a company called 'Maruti technical services private limited' (MTSPL) was launched and its purpose was to provide technical know-how for the design, manufacture and assembly of "a wholly indigenous motorcar".
  • In 1982, Suzuki bought 26 percent equity into the company for around USD 20.8 million.
  • In 1983, the original Maruti 800 was priced at Rs 48,000 but customers were willing to pay more than Rs 1 lakh for this new ‘futuristic’ car.
  • The original plan of the Indian government didn’t feature a small car at all. It was only after a visit to the Tokyo motor show by MUL’s top management that they zeroed in on a small car for India.
  • Suzuki was not even considered while shortlisting for a carmaker to partner with Maruti Udyog Limited. It was by pure chance that a senior director at Suzuki happened to read an article on an imminent Daihatsu-Maruti tie-up in India Today while on a domestic flight in India, which brought Suzuki into the fray. Continued..

  • The final two contenders for partnering with MUL were Suzuki and Mitsubishi.
  • MUL had created a record by taking only 13 months to go from design to rolling out cars from a production line.
  • Just three years after the original car was launched, the company replaced the original SS80 with an all-new car.
  • The emergence of Maruti resulted in the streamlining of auto ancillary units and the company’s policies of outsourcing were revolutionary in integrating the supplier-manufacturer relationship in the auto industry.
  • In just two years after MUL starting making cars, the passenger car segment more than doubled in volume, growing from about 40,000 units to over 1 lakh cars a year. Continued..

  • In 1997, 8 out of every 10 vehicles sold in India was a Maruti.
  • Despite the Maruti 1000 saloon being quite expensive for its time in 1990 (Rs 3.81 lakh), the incredible demand led to MUL resorting to a computerised lottery system to decide who could buy it.
  • Maruti-Suzuki’s manufacturing plants at Gurgaon and Manesar can, combined, contain almost 220 cricket fields. 
  • In 2005, the Swift was the first car in the company’s 20 year history where it introduced a brand new model in India right after its global launch. And in 2007, with the SX4, Maruti launched it ahead of even Japan and Europe.
  • Maruti’s assembly equipment of around 1,700 robots helps it roll out a new car every 12 seconds.

In its 30 year journey, Maruti has gone from being a company commissioned for making cars for the common Indian, to being a globally recognised carmaker. Happy thirtieth.

Read our Editor Hormazd Sorabjee's blog on 30 years of Maruti- the car that put India on wheels

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