Features/ Interviews/ TG Talks | The Jimny Drive | Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.

TG Talks | The Jimny Drive | Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.

Maruti Suzuki JIMNY - we call it the MOST AWAITED CAR OF THE DECADE. The hype around legendary Jimny is real, and lately, a lifestyle vehicle's culture is attracting quite much attention.India's mass-market favourite, Maruti Suzuki, has created quite a buzz in the auto market by unveiling Jimny at the 2023 Auto-Expo. Finally, we spoke to Mr. Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, to gain some insights and facts about Jimny.

RS: Getting straight to the point, why did it take so long time to bring Jimny to India? 

SS: The 3-door Jimny has been in the global market for a long time; we never had a 5-door Jimny. And when we displayed the 3-door Jimny at the 2020 Auto Expo, at that time, we got feedback from Indian consumers that it was a 5-door Jimny that we were looking at. Therefore we took some additional time, even though the export of 3-door Jimny has already started from January 2021. And here we are with 5-door Jimny, whose global unveil was done this year at Auto Expo.


RS: Which all market this 5-door Jimny will be sold, except India?

SS: We will have a market in SAARC, Latin America, ASEAN, and so forth.


RS: There is an annoying alarming reminder sound for the back seat as well, even though no one is sitting; what's the reason behind that?

SS: Actually, it goes something beyond the requirements, but still, we gave it because we believe putting rear seat belts on is not the practice in our country, so this will remind them for the first 90-seconds, and later on, when this becomes a habit among consumers we shall think of removing it.


RS: What kind of numbers are you expecting, as it already got huge demand and interest among consumers?

SS: Actually, Jimny operates in the entry-SUV segment. Entry-SUV is a large segment as it has grown to about 25 % of the market share. We see two or more segments emerging, which usually happens whenever the segment gets bigger. One is an urban, tech-oriented, feature-wanting segment, and the other is a more niche lifestyle-oriented segment. So, Fronx addresses the first segment, and Jimny is more lifestyle oriented, which appeals to people who love to go off-roading, and one who is passionate and adventurous. According to our research, there are a lot of consumers who would like to have this vehicle for city driving because of its capabilities. For example- If you see monsoons in Mumbai or city roads which are bad in some parts of the country, Jimny could be very handy. It is very manoeuvrable, and it has got great capabilities of handling, drivability and performance. So, at the moment we have 30000 bookings already.


RS: What would be the expected waiting period for Jimny?

SS: When we start a new model, we generally do not have any specific number in mind. We will see how the bookings and demand proceed from the time we announce the prices, and then we will modulate the production accordingly.


RS: Would you add more variants to the Jimny in the future, and why did you use an older K-series engine and gearbox?

SS: Not now, because we believe this1.5-l K15 engine is really sufficient. This k-15 B is tuned for better performance, whereas the newer K-12C is more tuned for fuel-efficiency perspective. The consumers of Jimny emphasise more on performance, as they are not more conscious of fuel efficiency, and it is better from that perspective. The gearbox is very sturdy, and it's great for off-roading. 


RS: How do you think prospective Mahindra Thar buyers will perceive Jimny?

SS: Jimny, in terms of comfort, drivability and off-road capabilities, is superb. In fact, fuel efficiency is also great at around 17km/l. Its got modern infotainment, 6-airbags- great for safety, and it has all the features that make it a great off-roader, like a ladder-frame chassis and rigid 3-link axle suspension. Then we have MS's 4X4 All-Grip Pro system. Those are all things that make it quite a package in itself.

RS: I see a lot of after-market modifications decking up the Jimny, even one displayed in the demo section as well, so have you partnered with any other after-market accessory providers, or do you have your own?

SS We have our own official accessories for now, and yes, Jimny definitely packs a lot of modification potential. 


RS: Mahindra Thar has recently crossed the 1 lakh milestone; what's your aspirational timeline with Jimny would look like?

SS: Really, we would like to do it much faster, but it all depends upon consumer reactions once we announce the price. And once we get to know the initial trend, we can give a much better idea of our estimation. 


RS: Do you foresee some more competition coming on its way from other competitors?

SS: It's not going to be easy, as the SUV segment itself become large; it is a very crowded segment. However, this segment is quite a niche, with just Thar as our rival. Profits and volumes might be limiting factors for manufacturers to enter the market, so Thar and Jimny will be two products for a long time.


RS: What are the marketing strategies for Jimny? It is going to sell even if you don't do anything. 

SS: We have invested a lot of money in TVC and Muti-media campaigns. The marketing objective goes beyond volumes. In this case, it establishes the codes of SUVs for MS as a brand, which people doubted earlier because our presence in SUV space was rather limited. Now, Grand Vitara, Brezza, Fronx, and now Jimny have established real SUV codes for the brand. We want to be number 1 in SUV space this financial year, and that means the image of MS has to be closely related to the SUV codes, which are really the strength of the MS.

RS: When do we get to see electrified Jimny in India?

SS: We have 6 EV models planned by the time it'sit's 2030. The first EV would be in the next financial year - the eVX, which we displayed at the auto expo. There are six different EVs across different segments.


RS: What is the one thing you don't like about Jimny?

SS: Can't think of any. It is very difficult for me to answer.


Also read complete review here -

JIMNY 2023 | Jack Of All Trades, Ingenious Marvel Of The Year | First Drive Review



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TopGear Magazine February 2024