Last week, Maruti Suzuki and Toyota announced a cross badging deal where Toyota will get the rights to sell a cross badged version of the Vitara Brezza and Baleno hatchback while Maruti Suzuki would get the same for the Toyota Corolla.
The idea of the deal then is to let each carmaker benefit from the other one’s strength. For Toyota, it will be Maruti’s presence in the B-segment while for the latter it’s the reputation that Toyota holds with regard to the Corolla.
The Toyota end of the deal is pretty straight forward and the gains are pretty obvious but on Maruti's end, the gains appear to be much larger. The Corolla has enjoyed reputation of reliability around the globe for more than 35 years now.
Any other company which adds its badge to a car like that is guaranteed good sales numbers.
The arrival of this model could see a renewed interest in the D-segment sedans which have been struggling for a while now due to a jump in consumer demand for SUVs in this price range and the numbers say it all. During the period from July to December 2016, the Elantra, Corolla and Octavia together managed to do about 4400 units while the Creta, which is the most successful car in its segment, achieved this number in one month alone. It was a similar story in 2017 with these three cars achieving similar numbers from 2016 and the Creta practically steam rolling them with sales of over 50,000 units in the same period.
We now foresee a renewed interested as this car, after all, will combine the reputation of the Corolla as a sedan with the reputation of Maruti Suzuki as a car manufacturer. There has generally been a trend that anywhere or anything that
Maruti invests in is usually the next big trend in the car industry. They do after all have 52 per cent of India’s car market and have held onto this for a while now.
Now most would argue that Maruti Suzuki has already tried its hand in the D-segment with the likes of the Grand Vitara, Kizashi and even the S-Cross but none have achieved any kind of numbers that make them big sellers. But since both those cars were launched, Maruti has started making a name for itself with premium products with the likes of the Baleno, Ciaz and the Vitara Brezza. Now even the Dzire compact sedan has moved up a notch and that should play into Maruti Suzuki’s hands.
What’s more, this time around, Maruti will not have to spend (too much) on developing the car. So even with a cross badging fee, it will still be able to price the car competitively. The car will be a NEXA badged product and that means Maruti will be able to make use of the already established chain to sell the car.
We ran a poll among our team and here are some of our (lighter) ideas for what Maruti could call its Suzuki badged Corolla.
Renderings: Kaustubh Gandhi