Friday, June 08, 2007

Maruti and innovation

Maruti realizes that there is more to cars than selling cars. Two recent things come to mind on this. One is the "Dil Se" offer that allows NRIs to gift a car. The other is their driving school initiative. (They have a few other services like "True value" - but I look at that is more of a standard offering than something really innovative.)

These simple things make it more than just a car manufacturer. A good driving school is an oxymoron in India, where the focus of a driving school more than imparting a skill is around getting a licence to the customer, somehow. The Maruti driving school is hopefully a welcome change as compared to the rudimentary services being offerred by the current lot of driving schools.

I have only seen the new white and yellow vehicles. They are new firstly, which is a big change (I learnt my driving in the old lot of driving schools and they just offer boxes that manage to run somehow), and they are air-conditioned. The website says (which also gives a picture of their cars) and I quote

"With advanced training methods, well-trained instructors and above all, state-of-the-art facilities, MDS provides immense opportunities to learn driving and develop confidence"

I think its has far reaching impact beyond the "learn driving" part. It "enables" ownership of a car for many for whom owning a car is a "leap of faith". That apart, it wins confidence of customers, the trust and what the Fords, the GM's and the Hyundai's of the world haven't done in India - Maruti seems to do it time and again (they were pioneers in making a Maruti 800, which even today is the cheapest car yet, Swift was the amongst the first car that offered ABS, air bags in a compact car).

It is small touches like these which makes Maruti continue in a leadership role in the automobile segment in India.

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