Despite overall PV sales slowing down amid dampened consumer sentiment and what are still high fuel prices, both Maruti and Hyundai still see sustained demand for popular models.
The Maruti Alto has regained the hatchback and top passenger vehicle (PV) crown, barely a month after it was dethroned by sibling Swift. With sales of 22,180 units, the Alto has driven ahead of the Swift in October 2018, indicating that there is still much demand for the small Maruti and remains the choice of entry level buyers in town and country.
Meanwhile, the premium Maruti Baleno hatchback, sold through the Nexa channel, is at No. 2 position after over a year and more. At 18,657 units sold in October 2018, the Baleno has considerably bettered its performance (October 2017: 14,532) a year ago, when it was a third place.
Continuing to be in third place is the new Maruti Dzire with sales of 17,404 units, down from the 21,296 units in sold in September 2018 and 21,990 in August 2018. The sedan, which has wowed its way into Indian families' hearts and which had topped the chart for two months in a row (June/18,758 and 2018/25,647), had made news in June by becoming the top-selling car in the country, dethroning its younger and cheaper entry-level Alto sibling. The third-generation Dzire is a more wholesome package than its predecessors, has more cabin space and a larger boot too. Importantly, it has frugal petrol and diesel engines, the former smooth and enjoyable while the latter are a tad clattery.
The popular Maruti Swift though has dropped three ranks in barely a month. In September 2018, it had regained the top spot after four months: in April 2018, it was India's best-selling PV, barely two months after it was launched in the domestic market. In October 2018, with sales of 17,215 units, the Swift shift places to fourth rank in the Top 10 PVs list.
On June 13 this year, the third-generation Swift drove past the 100,000 sales milestone within just 145 days of its launch at the 2018 Auto Expo. The Swift, in its latest eye-catching avatar, has been wooing buyers with its contemporary design language, roomier cabin, plentiful feature set and potent set of engines. Is the shift in demand related to the recent crash testing the model underwent? The Swift, which received a low 2-star ratings in the recent Global NCAP crash test. Buyers, particularly in metros and urban India, who are becoming more conscious of the need for improved safety in the vehicles they own and drive, will be looking to spend their money on safer cars in the future.
Maruti Suzuki India, whose sales are slowing down but retains a strong 51.50 percent PV market share, has sold a total of 1,044,749 PVs in the April-October 2018 period, which includes 150,633 utility vehicles. Nonetheless, the company maintains its stranglehold over the Top 10 list with seven of its models ruling roost. The other three positions are taken by Hyundai cars.
Driving in at No. 5 is Maruti's game-changing compact SUV and the country's UV leader, the Maruti Vitara Brezza. With sales of 15,832 units in October 2018, the practical, spacious and well-equipped SUV remains a popular buy. In fact, this is the SUV's best-ever monthly sales since launch in March 2016, and helping it cross the cumulative 350,000-unit sales mark in 32 months.
The next three positions are taken up by Hyundai Motor India models. At No. 6 is the Hyundai Elite i20 hatchback with sales of 13,290 units, considerably more than the 11,012 units sold a year ago. The updated version of the i20 launched at the 2018 Auto Expo has a lot going for it. The car now offers a crisper touch-screen infotainment system, smarter alloy wheels, as well as a CVT mated to its 1.2-litre petrol engine.
Sibling Hyundai Grand i10 takes seventh place, having sold 11,820 units in October 2018. The Grand i10 seems to be feeling the pressure of the gradual shift of entry level car buyers to more premium offerings. Nonetheless, the Grand i10 continues to be offered with an exhaustive list of comfort and design features, making it a practical buy for families.
The other SUV in the Top 10 PV list is the Hyundai Creta at No. 8. The popular model, the constant No.2 UV behind the Vitara Brezza, sold a total of 11,702 units last month, and like its arch rival has totted up its best-ever monthly numbers in October. It may be recollected that in June 2018, the Creta had beaten the Brezza to top spot with sales of 11,111 units, but the Brezza has bounced back since then and how.
Meanwhile, demand for the tall boy Maruti Wagon R seems to be slowing down. The entry level hatchback, which sold 10,655 units in October 2018, is now at No. 9 position, considerably down from its usual No. 5/6 slot.
The Maruti Celerio, which returned to the Top 10 list in September, retains its No. 10 position with sales of 9,260 units, a marginal growth over the 9,208 units it had sold in September. The refreshing of the model with the X variant seems to have injected new pep into the vehicle's sales.
The PV industry is currently experiencing a slowdown and the expected demand from the festive season has not materialised. The domestic PV industry, which sold a total of 284,224 units in October 2018, posted flat year-on-year growth of 1.55 percent. Will consumer sentiment and the market pick up as the year draws to a close? Or will car buyers, as they usually do, wait till January? Watch this space.
Also read: Top 10 Passenger Cars in October 2018
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