Suzuki Touts India-Made Car's Quality at Parity With Japan

  • Maruti-built Baleno hatchback beginning sales in Japan
  • Chairman Osamu Suzuki: Quality at same level as Japan plant

Suzuki Motor Corp., shipping India-built cars to Japan for the first time, said plants in its biggest market are now capable of making vehicles at the same level of quality as factories at home.

Japan’s second-biggest minicar maker began selling the Baleno hatchback, made by its Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. subsidiary, in Japan on Wednesday, according to a statement. Suzuki said earlier this week it’s planning to sell 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion) of convertible bonds primarily to help fund expansion in India, its biggest market.

Chairman Osamu Suzuki said the company is looking to “dismiss the prejudice” against India-made cars with the Baleno, which is equipped with standard safety features including a radar system that mitigates collisions. Aside from Nissan Motor Co., almost all of Japanese automakers’ local sales are domestic-made vehicles.

“We have been working on quality in India for three decades,” Suzuki, 86, told reporters at a press conference Wednesday in Tokyo. Suzuki’s India plants are at parity with the company’s Kosai factory in Japan that builds minicar models including the Alto and Hustler, he said. “There’s no problem with quality.”

Maruti, which said Wednesday it has sold more than 38,000 units of Baleno in India since its introduction in October, will export the model to more than 100 countries.

Shares of Maruti climbed 3.3 percent to 3,576.40 rupees in Mumbai. The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.6 percent.

Japanese automakers sold 28,610 passenger cars that were made overseas last year, down 7.3 percent from 2014, according to the Japan Automobile Importers Association. Nissan accounted for 72 percent of domestic manufacturers’ registrations of imported passenger cars in 2015.

(An earlier version of this story corrected timing for the start of Baleno sales in Japan.)

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