Indian Carmaker Maruti Suzuki Hits Production of One Million Cars a Year

Company is credited with revolutionizing transport in India by making affordable cars for a burgeoning middle class

Maruti Suzuki, India's biggest passenger car company, said on March 23 it had joined the global club of carmakers producing at least one million vehicles a year.

General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota, Ford and Honda are among the vehicle companies in the select group.

Maruti is the "first Indian automobile company to join the million club," the company said.

Former prime minister Indira Gandhi set up the car company in a joint venture with Suzuki nearly three decades ago to "serve the ordinary people of India".

Last year, Maruti's sales outstripped Suzuki's performance in Japan and the company is credited with revolutionizing transport in India by making affordable cars for a burgeoning middle class.

Maruti, which sells about one in two cars in the country, produced its first car -- the hatchback Maruti 800 -- in 1983. In its first full financial year of commercial operations production reached a little over 22,000 cars.

Maruti announced the landmark as company officials laid the foundation stone for its plant expansion at Manesar near New Delhi, which will see the facility producing 550,000 units a year from 300,000 over the next two years.

India is now Asia's third-largest car market, outpaced only by China and Japan, and is one of the few countries where automobile sales are rapidly increasing.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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