The low growth which has impacted the Indian passenger vehicle (PV) segment since the festive season of 2018 is not showing any signs of relief even two months into the new calendar year.
Maruti Suzuki India, the bellwether of the Indian PV segment, today released its performance overview for the month of February 2019. At 136,912 units, it has recorded flat 0.2 percent year-on-year growth (February 2018: 136,648). And this is the story for the sixth month in a row.
Domestic market sales
September 2018: 0.66% (151,512 units)
October 2018: 0.61% (135,948 units)
November 2018: -0.28% (143,890 units)
December 2018: 1.05% (119,804 units)
January 2019: 0.18% (139,440 units)
February 2019: 0.2% (136,912 units)
Just like the entire industry, Maruti had also resorted to managing its extra inventory in the pipeline by moderating production and, as a result, its wholesales were low from November through to the start of 2019. Now, even as it brought a notable model refresh and a new launch in January, sales have witnessed no substantial uptick for Maruti in February.
Maruti's entry-level duo of the Alto and the Wagon R posted a significant slump of 26.7 percent with sales of 24,751 units in the month (February 2018: 33,789). While the Alto was the best-selling car in India in January, the company has clarified that the new third-generation Wagon R, which it launched on January 23, now moves to the ‘compact’ category of cars and joins its other siblings Celerio, Swift, Ignis, Baleno and the Dzire. The 27 percent drop is attributed to this as the data only includes the remaining numbers of the outgoing Wagon R.
The compact models together garnered total volumes of 72,678 units and registered growth of 11.4 percent (February 2018: 65,213). While the Swift, Dzire and the Baleno continue to do well, Maruti has given a minor facelift to the Ignis as well.
Maruti’s midsize sedan, the Ciaz, has been facing the heat from the competition and the car clocked only 3,084 units in the month, declining 37 percent (February 2018: 4,897).
Utility vehicles, on the other hand, saved the blushes for the company, with the Vitara Brezza, S-Cross and the Ertiga going home to 21,834 buyers and growing 7.4 percent (February 2018: 20,324). Interestingly, the new second-generation Ertiga is getting good traction in private and fleet sales alike.
Vans posted strong YoY growth with the Omni and Eeco garnering notable growth of 17.2 percent and selling 14,565 units in the month (February 2018: 12,425). Maruti is likely to pull a plug on both of these models as stringent vehicle safety regulations kick in later in the year from October, and that it would need to invest heavily towards making them compliant.
In FY2018-19, Maruti Suzuki India sold a total of 1,643,467 units in the domestic market (+13.84%) and 123,903 units in the export market (+1.53%). In the April 2018 to February 2019 period, the carmaker has sold a total of 1,584,795 units (+5.9%) and exported 114,058 units (-13.8%). Given the current market trends and slow customer offtake, expect Maruti Suzuki to record single-digit YoY growth in FY2019.