Maruti Suzuki Alto drives past 4.5 million sales 23 years after launch

The Alto has been India’s longtime best-selling hatchback and a default choice for many looking to graduate to four- wheelers.

By Autocar Pro News Desk & Ajit Dalvi calendar 03 Aug 2023 Views icon10177 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

The Maruti Suzuki Alto has become India’s highest selling car, having clocked cumulative sales of 45 lakh or 4.5 million units. The latest milestone for the small car comes 23 years after it was launched.

The Alto saw strong consumer acceptance soon after its launch and by 2004 it had become the best-selling car in the country. Suffice it to say that the small Maruti has made a big impact on the Indian automotive industry. It has been the country’s longtime best-selling hatchback and a default choice for many looking to graduate to four- wheelers. Launched in 2000, the Alto was Maruti Suzuki’s people car for the new millennium. 

The Alto wasn’t a runaway success right from the day of its launch. The catch here was the Maruti 800 – the car which put India on wheels – which still lured many first-time car buyers. Maruti Suzuki initially struggled to convince buyers to pick the Alto over the iconic 800 despite the former looking fresher, having better engine and gearbox options, and more features without a big premium over the 800. 

The first Alto came with  two engine options – the 45hp, 796cc petrol engine from the Maruti 800 hatchback, and a 65hp, 1.1-litre, 4-cylinder petrol motor. 

To draw more buyers to the Alto, Maruti made some strategic moves. It narrowed the 800’s range, launched more affordable variants of the Alto and marketed it aggressively. The efforts paid off and after three years, the Alto wrested the throne from the 800 as India’s best-selling car. 

Since then, the Alto sales continued to grow, reaching milestones upon milestones. In 2008, Maruti Suzuki sold 10 lakh units of the Alto, making it only the fourth car in the Indian market to hit that milestone after the 800, Santro and the Omni. The Alto took just four years to sell another 10 lakh units and in 2016, it crossed the 30-lakh milestone, making it the only car in India to do so. By August 2020, Maruti Suzuki had sold 40 lakh Altos.

Since the hatchback’s launch, the Alto has seen three iterations. In 2010, the first-gen K10 model was launched along with a CNG variant. Two years later, the Alto 800 was introduced and marked 2 million sales of the car. The second-generation Alto K10 was launched in 2014, followed by the third-gen model more recently in 2022.

Currently sold in seven variants, the Alto K10, which is powered by the K-Series 1.0-litre petrol engine, is priced at Rs 467,000 (on-road Delhi) for the base Standard variants through to Rs 678,000 for the top-end VXi+ AMT variant.

In its commentary on the Alto, Autocar India says: “Although not as affordable as it once was, the alto K10 is a stress-free car that’s easy to live with, easy to drive, and cheap to own and run. It is surprisingly capable too in all environments, which makes it a good all-purpose car that first-time car buyers will appreciate.”

Over 2 million units sold since FY2014

A quick look at the domestic market sales numbers of the Alto reveals that over 2.22 million units (22,20,441) have been sold over 10 fiscal years, between FY2024 through to FY2023, accounting for 49.34% of the total 4.5 million units. FY2019 has been its best year with 259,401 units but demand slowed down over the next couple of years. 

FY2020 sales of 190,814 units were down by a substantial 26%, while the Covid-19-impacted FY2021 saw demand reduce by 16% to 158,992 units and to 145,167 units. 

What has brought the fizz back is Maruti Suzuki introducing the third-gen Alto K10 in August 2022, followed by the CNG variant, which delivers top-notch fuel efficiency of 33.85 km/kg, in November 2022. This move has seen sales improve year on year by 24% to 179,698 units. 

The decadal sales data reveals that the Alto continued to be India’s best-selling car each year right till FY2020. In FY2021, the Alto dropped three positions to fourth rank and ceded the title to sibling Maruti Swift (172,671 units). In FY2022, when the Maruti Wagon became the top seller (188,837 units), it continued to have fourth position, improving upon that in FY2023 to take third spot with 179,698 units after the leader Wagon R (212,340) and Baleno (202,901 units).

Commenting on the Alto’s 4.5 million sales milestone, Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Officer, Marketing & Sales, Maruti Suzuki India, said: “Over the past two decades, brand Alto has established a strong emotional connect with our customers. We are extremely proud of the Alto’s incredible journey. Achieving the 45 lakh customer milestone is a testimony to the unwavering support and trust that our customers have placed in us. It’s a milestone which no other car brand has been able to achieve till date. We are confident that brand Alto will continue to delight lakhs of more families with its undisputed legacy and exceptional ownership experience.” 

Maruti Suzuki Alto: Evolution of India’s quintessential first car

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