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Company in Focus: Maruti Suzuki wants the world, starting with rural India

Moves by Japanese parent Suzuki Motor to strengthen its control risk friction

Suzuki's new factory in Gujarat is capable of churning out 250,000 cars a year.

MUMBAI In 2016, India ranked fifth in global auto sales, at 3.6 million units, coming just behind Germany. A big chunk of those sales came from Maruti Suzuki India, which sold 1.4 million cars to grab about 40% of the domestic market. A local unit of Suzuki Motor, Maruti is spearheading the Japanese company's emerging market strategy and opening up new frontiers in the fast-expanding Indian automobile segment.

PLANTING SEEDS One of those new frontiers is a dusty playground of an elementary school in the tiny western Indian village of Saigaon. There, a gaggle of children surround a shiny new car, intently drawing pictures of it. The focus of their attention is an Alto 800 hatchback, a recent low-cost offering by Maruti. In place of the car's license plate is a placard bearing the name of the model. It is written in Marathi, the local language.

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