Kia Motors India and its sole product – the Seltos SUV – are scorching the Indian utility vehicle market and how. In barely four months since launch on August 22, the Seltos has sold all of 40,581 units, which translates into a monthly average of 10,145 units or 338 units for each day between August and end-November.
The Seltos sales story keeps getting better with every passing month. November 2019's 14,005 units were Kia's best monthly figures and with 80,000-odd bookings in hand, this is one success story that is Seltos-sing UV rivals away.
The fuel-wise variant split for the Seltos sales till now is 47:53 percent diesel: petrol. What has helped the Seltos cut through India's UV market is Kia's ability to match production with demand and a sound marketing strategy of offering multiple engines, multiple gearboxes, multiple variants and at multiple price points. The price sticker for all of 16 variants covers virtually every price point and starts from Rs 969,000 (for the entry-level petrol Smartstream G1.5 HTE model) and goes up to Rs 15.99 lakh (for the diesel 1.5 CRDi HTX plus (6AT) and Petrol Smartstream 1.4 T – GDI GTX (7DCT) and GTX plus top-end variant).
With a robust 14,005 units in November, the Seltos easily retains the UV crown it won for the first time in October, unseating market leader Maruti Vitara Brezza. Such a consistent and strong performance has seen the Seltos and Kia take a strong 6.34% UV market share in barely four months and fifth in the pecking order of 17 UV OEMs. Not surprisingly, the Seltos has won the prestigious Autocar India 'Car of the Year 2020' award, along with the awards for Viewers' Choice and Midsize SUV of the Year. The Seltos also gave Kia the Manufacturer of the Year award.
Maruti Vitara Brezza records best monthly YTD performance: 12,033
The Maruti Vitara Brezza, the longstanding UV leader, seems to be fighting back. Felled by new competition, first in the form of the Hyundai Venue in September and then the Kia Seltos in October, the Brezza remains under pressure in the marketplace.
The lack of a petrol engine amidst the growing consumer shift from diesel to petrol has impacted the Vitara Brezza adversely over the past year. Nonetheless, the SUV recorded a total of 12,033 units in November 2019, which is its best monthly number in the fiscal year till date, the previous best being 11,785 units in April.
The importance of the Brezza to Maruti can be gleaned from the fact that it accounts for 46.39% (74,470 units) of the company's UV sales of 160,522 in the April-November 2019 period. Having decided to stop making diesel vehicles from FY2021 onwards, Maruti Suzuki is readying a new model. It has begun road testing the refreshed Vitara Brezza, which is likely to debut around the Auto Expo 2020 in February, exactly four years from the model's world premiere at Auto Expo 2016, in New Delhi.
Hyundai Venue takes third place
With the Seltos firing on all cylinders and the Brezza notching improved sales, the Hyundai Venue, the UV leader in September, has been pushed to third place. In November 2019, a total of 9,665 units were despatched to showrooms across the country, which looks to be its best monthly performance in the fiscal year to date.
From its launch on May 21 till end-November, Hyundai's first compact SUV has sold a total of 60,922 units comprising 24,698 diesel and 36,224 petrol variants, which makes for a 40:60 percent ratio and indicative of the consumer preference for petrol power in the domestic market. The Venue comes with three engine options – a 90hp, 1.4-litre diesel, an 83hp, 1.2-litre naturally aspirated petrol unit, and a 120hp, 1.0-litre turbocharged unit.
In the April-November 2019 period, Hyundai has sold a total of 122,827 UVs, which means the Venue with 60,922 units accounts for 50% of that total. The company says it has around 75,000 bookings for the Venue, which means this is one model which will continue to be in the news.
Maruti Ertiga sells 7,537 units
The sole MPV in the Top 5 UVs list takes fourth place with 7,337 units, better than October's 7,197 units, September's 6,284 units but less than the 8,391 units in August. The Ertiga in its new avatar is seeing decent demand. With its modern design, ample space, thoughtful features and a value-for-money package, the new Ertiga is ticking most of the right boxes for family and fleet buyers.
The April-November 2019 period sees a total of 63,145 Ertigas going home to new buyers comprising 34,354 diesel and 28,791 petrol, which constitutes a diesel:petrol split of 54:36 percent.
Hyundai Creta at No. 5 with 6,684 units
Once a longstanding No. 2 below the Brezza, demand for the Hyundai Creta has been impacted by newcomers like the Kia Seltos and sibling Hyundai Venue. With sales / despatches of 6,684 units in November, the Creta takes fifth place in the monthly Top 5. While this performance is sharply down on October's 8,576 units, it is better than September's 6,641 units, August's 6,001 units and July's 6,585 units.
In the April-November period, the Creta has sold a total of 61,055 units, comprising 42,475 diesel and 18,580 petrol variants, which makes for a 70:31 diesel:petrol model split. This total is 28% down on year-ago sales (April-November 2018: 84,701).
The Hyundai Creta has been on sale for four years now, although it has been upgraded through the years with refreshed styling and more equipment – which is why Hyundai India plans to launch of the all-new Creta next year, when it completes 5 years in the Indian market.
UV segment coming into its own
While the UV segment's smart performance in October 2019 (100,725 units / 22.22%) can be also attributed to festive season demand, it looks like the sales momentum is here to stay. In November, the overall UV segment recorded 92,739 units, which marks solid 32.70% YoY growth. The Top 5 UVs in this month's chart, with a total of 49,924 units, account for 54 percent of total UV sales in November.
Cumulative UV numbers for the April-November period are 640,311 units (3.83%), accounting for 34% of total passenger vehicle sales. Of those cumulative US numbers, these 5 UVs (Seltos, Brezza, Venue, Ertiga and Creta) make up for 300,173 units or 47%, which is indicative of the impact this quintet has on the overall UV sector.
SUVs clearly spell good news for the beleaguered Indian automobile industry, which has seen 12 straight months of overall sales decline, a trend which looks to continue till the fiscal year-end and possibly beyond that. The clutch of recently launched SUVs, all from global manufacturers, are playing a key role in the resurgence of demand for this vehicle type, and in line with global trends. Not surprisingly, their robust sales have resulted in their manufacturers expanding their UV market share, and eating into established OEMs' share. Now, as OEMs get a fix on BS VI, expect more rollouts on the SUV firmament.