The passenger vehicle (PV) segment ended the last month of 2018 on a flat note with sales totaling 238,692 units, marking negative growth of 0.43 percent year on year. December typically is also a month when new car buyers prefer to wait till January to purchase their new set of wheels, while those who do bring home their vehicle benefit from mouth-watering discounts offered by manufacturers and dealers. Nonetheless, overall industry and consumer sentiment has been muted. Expect the gaggle of new PV launches this month to recharge the atmosphere.
Even market leader Maruti Suzuki India, with sales of 119,804 units (+1.05%) felt the pressure of slowing sales in December 2018, which meant the overall PV segment numbers were impacted. And, with the new Wagon R to be launched on January 23, the existing hatchback even dropped out of the Top 10 in December, a chart where the car is a regular fixture. Nonetheless, in the absence of any major competition, Maruti maintains its stranglehold on the Top 10 best-selling PVs list with seven vehicles, albeit with a difference – its Eeco van has driven into the list, with sales of 8,532 units.
The Maruti Alto hatchback, the preferred entry level car for most buyers in Tier 2 and 3 towns is back on top spot, after a gap of a month. It’s been a see-saw ride for Maruti cars for the No. 1 position. The Alto had given way to sibling Swift in November 2018, having been boss in October 2018. In fact, in CY2018, the Alto has been India’s No. 1 PV for all of seven months. With sales of 25,121 units in December 2018, the Alto accounted for 21 percent of Maruti’s total PV sales in the month.
At No. 2, the Maruti Suzuki Dzire saw 16,797 units being despatched to dealers across the country. A year ago it was the No. 1, its sales having declined by 20 percent (December 2017: 21,145). Nonetheless, the third-generation Dzire remains a popular buy due to its comfortable ride, spacious cabin and frugal petrol and diesel engines.
Hyundai’s Elite i20 breaks into the No. 3 position after a long time with sales of 11,940 units in December 2018, a 21 percent increase over year-ago sales (December 2017: 9,847). The i20 in its latest iteration with an update a year ago is drawing buyers with its host of contemporary features such as LEDs and touch-screen infotainment system.
Maruti’s popular compact hatchback, the Swift, which was the No. 1 in November 2018 with 22,191 units, has dropped three positions in a month to No. 4 in December with despatches of 11,790 units.
In its latest second-generation avatar, the Swift is seen wooing buyers with its styling, space, comfort and convenience features on offer. The Swift also went on to achieve a landmark milestone of crossing two million sales in India, 13 years since its launch in May 2005 in the country. Earlier this month, Suzuki Motor Gujarat’s Plant No. 2, which has a manufacturing capacity of 250,000 Swifts per annum, went on stream, which means Maruti will have ample capacity at hand to cater to demand for the snazzy hatchback
The other Hyundai hatchback in the Top 10 list is the Grand i10 which sold a total of 11,450 units.
Meanwhile, the Maruti Baleno hatchback takes sixth spot. The car which plays in the B+ segment and is retailed only through Maruti’s premium Nexa channel, sold 11,135 units, down 23 percent over year-ago sales (December 2017: 14,551) when it was the No. 3.
At No. 7 is India’s UV champion, the Maruti Vitara Brezza, down one spot from its position a year ago. The SUV sold a total of 9,667 units in December 2018, down 16 percent year on year (December 2017: 11,540). The carmaker had given the Brezza a mild facelift earlier in July 2018 and it now features safety equipment such as dual-front airbags, ABS and EBD as standard across its range. As a result, the immensely popular crossover came out meritorious in the Global NCAP tests and scored a high 4-star rating.
The Maruti Celerio takes the No. 8 position with a round sales figures of 9,000 units. Coming as a surprise entry in the Top 10 is the Maruti Eeco van with despatches of 8,532 units in December 2018. This is the highest ever monthly number for the van, which was first launched in India in January 2010 and recently crossed the 500,000 sales milestone in the domestic market. From January 2010 till end-December 2018, the Eeco has sold a total of 536,039 units, including 8,532 CNG versions.
Wrapping up the Top 10 list is the Hyundai Creta SUV which clocked 7,631 units in December 2018.
The first new car launches of CY2019 begin in a couple of days. Nothing like new products to kick-start growth and inject optimism in the market. Stay tuned.
Also read: Top 5 Utility Vehicles in December 2018