Maruti Suzuki: The Indian mega-factory

It’s difficult not to be overawed by it all – the scale is actually scary. All that energy, all that raw material, all that vast, untapped potential. Think about it: Indian car ownership currently stands at only 18 cars per 1,000 people. Indians want cars, and companies like Maruti Suzuki are going to provide them.

As we head out and away from Gurgaon, I can’t help feeling concerned at the inevitable problems allied to the sheer numbers involved. A situation made more problematic in India than in the other huge emerging market China, where the ruling Communist party seems to be doing a pretty good job of quashing any sort of protest. In India, government decisions take time, and time is something that India doesn’t have.

Which brings us full circle to yet more incredible statistics. The population of India has risen from 644,330,000 to well over a billion in 35 years. Over 65 per cent were born after 1978; nearly half after 1991. And they all want cars – over a quarter of Alto buyers are under 29 years old. Which points to some serious numbers in the future, as India drags itself up the socio-economic gradient. All of which means that in a world of uncertainties, two things are clear: the Indians will need to build a lot more roads... and fit louder horns.

(Words: Piers Ward, Pictures: Justin Leighton)