Maruti Suzuki, India's biggest carmaker by sales volume, said its third quarter profit doubled, its first rise in 18 months after a turbulent period. R C Bhargava, chairman, tells Surajeet Das Gupta that he now awaits the Budget. Edited excerpts:
Your results for the quarter ending December 2012 were robust. Are the bad days over?
Yes, we are coming back to normal levels of growth and margins, as we used to do earlier. The good result has been primarily because of high production led by diesel cars and reduction in costs. In October-December last year in the same quarter, we had just got out of a strike and were, therefore, not able to ramp up production. And, there was the diesel factor; we did not have so many diesel cars.
Do you see these good times continuing the next quarter?
I think we will have an okay coming quarter. Volumes are stable and there is no issue about production. Also, we will get the benefit of the yen depreciation in the previous quarter, as vendors get paid later. So, the impact of the strengthening of the rupee against the yen will be seen in the fourth quarter.
What about the trend for next year?
I don't think I can predict beyond three months. We have to wait and see the budget and its impact on the industry, though I do not think there will be any rise in excise.
Do you again see any shift of consumer buying from diesel to petrol?
Petrol car sales are continuing to dip. The small increase in diesel price by 45p a litre will not make a difference. If the price increase in diesel happens in a sustained manner, there could be some impact.