Decline in raw material costs by 3.5% drives Apollo Tyres' margins

Maruti Suzuki India (MSI), which sells every second car in the market, took a call to vacate the diesel segment last year. The carmaker has instead chosen to bet big on compressed natural gas (CNG). Over the past decade, the maker of the Brezza and Baleno has sold close to 520,000 CNG models. In an interview, Kenichi Ayukawa, managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) MSI, tells SHALLY SETH MOHILE and ARINDAM MAJUMDER that the company will take a call on diesel segment after seeing the response of the recently launched models by the rivals. Edited excerpts:


You have vacated the diesel segment, while others are going ahead with their BS-VI diesel model launch plans. Are you re-thinking diesel strategy?


The diesel models are not affordable any more. Other players have launched various models at a competitive price. We have to see the response. We will take a call on whether we develop it further.


Hyundai is projecting itself as the sole manufacturer of diesel cars. Aren’t you giving away a big chunk of the segment?


We will try to capture the other portion. We will take a call (on bringing diesel models) after six months. It has to be a long-term strategy. May be some regulations change after two years. We have to decide the powertrain options in a phased manner, systematically.


When do we see the concept Futuro-e that you unveiled today (Wednesday) defining your future line-up? 


It will take time. It is a concept design that will underpin various models of the future and can be used for hybrid, electric or internal combustion engine (ICE).


When do you see the tide turning for the auto industry?


The months of February and March are going to be very tough due to the transition from BS-IV to BS-VI. The grade VI diesel is still not available. We will have to see how things pan out from April onwards. Typically, demand picks up during the festive season. We hope to see the trend even this year.


How do we see the partnership with Toyota panning out?


Now, we are supplying one model — the Baleno. We will add more models. We will start developing models for markets outside India. They have a strong knowledge for hybrids, so we will collaborate and produce more models that can be sold by both the companies.