Maruti: Bullish on India in 1982, have 100% confidence now
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Tough times for the domestic car industry notwithstanding, the man whose positive report card on the Indian market nearly four decades back set the stage for the Suzuki's entry into the country, continues to be upbeat as ever.
Shinzo Nakanishi, at his last media briefing in his current role as Maruti Suzuki India Ltd's managing director and CEO on Friday, was unambiguous in his bullish outlook even at a time when car sales are slated to clock the steepest decline in 12 years:
"Considering the overall dynamics and the potential of (the) people... I have a 100 per cent confidence in India and the (Indian auto) industry." As he gets set to hang up his boots as the person in the drivers seat at India's biggest car maker, the 65-year old Nakanishi looks more than comfortable wearing his Indian connection on his sleeve. Of his 42 years with Suzuki Motor Corporation (he joined the Hamamatsu-based small car maker in 1971), he has spent 22 years, or more that half his working life in India in two stints. He was here from 1982-92 in one stint and then again since 2000.
Nakanishi, known as a close confidante of Osamu Suzuki, was the first person to come from Suzuki in 1981 when the Indian government was negotiating the joint venture. His report on India set the stage based on which Suzuki decided to put in its investment in the country. Recounting the exercise, Nakanishi admits that in those days, the Japanese firm just "didn't know India at all".
But when he came down to India, Nakanishi says he felt extremely confident. "First, I felt India was promising. Second, we had a feeling that the government was a good partner." Maruti Udyog Ltd was formed as a result of the Nakanishi report, following which a joint venture was signed between Suzuki Motor Corporation and the government. It has been an extraordinary run for the company's maiden launch, a car it did not even bother to christen.
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