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.