Last year, 2012, saw the usual suspects grabbing the top spots as the bestselling cars of the year, but there were some new entrants in the line up. Which were the hot selling cars of the year 2012, and what makes them best sellers, flying off the showroom floor faster than the carmakers could make them? We take a look.
The Indian passenger car market saw an overall modest growth of about 9% across segments, below the Rs. 25 lakh price point. However, among these segments, the quickest growth was seen in SUVs and MUVs, followed by sedans and then hatchbacks. Here is a look at the hot-seller cars of 2012 across segments. Also read: Winners and losers of 2012
Maruti Alto 800
The Maruti Alto 800 is no surprise actually. The car has been India’s best-selling cars for years, and the refreshed Alto 800 that replaced the older Alto 800 in October, just gave Maruti a boost on the sales charts, with the car completely outclassing all its competitors. The refreshed Maruti Alto 800 has sold over 76,300 units in the past three months alone, while the earlier Alto 800 averaged 23,400 units a month between January and September.
What makes the Alto 800 such a hot seller? It’s probably because it’s viewed as a “complete” car at a very affordable price (below Rs. 3 lakh). It has good fuel efficiency, space for four and adequate performance for city and highway drives, unlike its competitors – the Nano, which is seen as strictly utilitarian for the city and the Eon – which is a bit too pricey in comparison. It also benefits from Maruti’s sales, service and distribution reach in rural and semi-urban India. The second best in the segment, the Eon, managed an average of only about 7,800 cars a month. Also read: Maruti Alto 800 road test and review
The Maruti Swift has seen its sales jump even further ever since the launch of the new Swift in mid 2011. The Swift too is no surprise, as it has been the sales leader ever since its launch in the premium hatchback segment. The Swift has sold 1,86,797 units in 2012, which could have been even more had it not been for the labour strife at the Maruti plant that hit sales in July, August and September of the year. The second-largest selling premium hatchback is the Hyundai i20, which sold only 84,299 cars in 2012, with sales jumping to over 7,700 units a month since April, after the launch of the refreshed i20.
What makes the Swift a hot seller? The reasons are similar to the Maruti Alto – the Swift is an absolute value-for-money premium hatchback with good performance, handling, mileage and a strong service network. The Swift is available in both petrol and diesel with nearly 75% of sales last year being for the diesel variant. Also read: Maruti Swift road test
The new Maruti Dzire was launched in February 2012 and has gone on to be a huge hot seller, with waiting periods at one point going up to six months for the car. The Dzire is very well priced and shares 80% of its design and mechanicals with the Swift hatchback. The new Maruti Swift Dzire has sold over 1,54,200 cars in 2012, at an average of nearly 12,900 cars a month despite a slowdown during the labour problems at Maruti in July, August and September.
What makes the Maruti Dzire such a hot-seller? Again, it’s the performance, handling and value-for-money, as well as the service network. The car is also one of the best quality cars in its segment, beating the Toyota Etios on price, and the Mahindra Verito and Tata Manza on build and performance. Also read: Maruti Dzire road test and review
The Hyundai Verna has been the segment leader in the mid-size segment ever since its launch in May 2011. The car has managed to hold on to the top spot despite competition from Skoda, Nissan and Renault. The Verna sold nearly 56,500 units in 2012, at an average of over 4,700 cars a month. The Verna is now available in as many as 13 variants, including three automatic transmission variants and four engine choices – two petrol and two diesel.
What makes the Verna a hot seller? It has to be the features that the car offers. It has everything from push-button ignition, to reverse camera, parking sensors, alloys, automatic climate control, power folding mirrors etc. It offers more features than all its competitors, but it isn’t really inexpensive either. But when you look at the features it offers, it appears value for money. Hyundai’s growing service network also has helped. Also read: The real mileage of the Hyundai Verna diesel
The Hyundai Elantra was launched in July 2012, and went on to become the leader in the premium mid-size sedan segment. The segment had been slowing down with sales leaders the Toyota Corolla Altis and the Chevrolet Cruze seeing a drop in sales. The Elantra managed to capture that segment fairly decently, selling over 500 cars a month since its launch. It has sold over 3,000 cars since its launch.
What makes the Hyundai Elantra a hot seller? Like the Hyundai Verna, the Hyundai Elantra too is loaded with comfort features at an attractive price point. This makes the car pretty good value for money as far as features are concerned, although it’s not much of a performance car. Also read: Hyundai Elantra road test
The Maruti Ertiga was launched in April and quickly went on to grab the top spot among MUVs in the market, beating the Xylo and running neck and neck with the more expensive Toyota Innova. The Ertiga created a segment of an affordable seven-seater MUV, that was compact enough and car-like to handle. The Ertiga as sold nearly 59,500 units since its launch in April 2012. In the same period, the Toyota Innova sold just over 56,000 units, while the Mahindra Xylo only managed about 19,000 units.
What makes the Ertiga a hot seller? The Ertiga addressed a market need for a versatile people mover that was not bulky and as easy to handle as a car. The two extra seats it offered gave people the flexibility to seat additional passengers when needed. And it is good value for money, being cheaper than its competitors. Also read: Maruti Ertiga vs Toyota Innova
The Renault Duster has been one of the biggest success stories of 2012, with the Duster selling faster than Renault can make it. The Renault Duster created the compact SUV segment in India and soon went on to overtake the leader in its price segment as well as a segment above –the Mahindra Scorpio and also the Mahindra XUV500. The Duster has sold over 23,700 units since its launch in July, at an average of over nearly 4,500 units a month!
What makes the Renault Duster a hot seller? The Duster brought SUV like look and feel with car like handling to a segment that so far had only seen bulky SUVs such as the Mahindra Scorpio and Tata Safari. It became the ideal alternative to a sedan as it had good ground clearance and big wheels, capable of tackling bad roads with ease with a fair amount of road presence as well. Also read: Renault Duster road test and review
There are no surprises in the premium SUV segment. The Toyota Fortuner, which was refreshed in 2012, continues to be the hot-seller in the segment, selling over 1,200 units a month. This is commendable considering its nearest competitors such as the Ford Endeavour and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport only manage under 200 units a month on average. Also read: Toyota Fortuner road test and review
What makes the Toyota Fortuner a hot seller? The Toyota brand is seen as one standing for quality and reliability – and that is something buyers relate to. The other aspect is the sheer size and road presence that the vehicle offers. And now with more variants including a 4×2 and an automatic in the line-up, the Fortuner is a vehicle that comes as a well-rounded package. The Pajero Sport could have given it a run for its money, but Mitsubishi does not have the marketing muscle to pull it off.