October has been a mixed bag for entry-level hatchback sales in India. High interest rates and rising fuel prices have continued to weigh down on this segment. But Maruti’s production coming back on track has meant that overall growth has stabilized as Maruti’s sales of the Alto and Wagon-R, the top two best-selling cars in the segment have bounced back.
Eon falls short, Santro leaps
When the Hyundai Eon was launched in October, it was expected that the car would sell over 11,000 units a month as the company had predicted. But in November, sales of the Eon were just 7,418 units, an increase of 17% from the previous month, but still short of target. The 800 cc Eon was meant to target the Maruti Alto and Wagon R, but it doesn’t seem to have made much of an impact on either model, and if at all has only cannibalized some sales from its own stable mates. Also see: Hyundai Eon road test
However, the sales of its earlier favorite, the Santro, have actually increased 63% in November to 5,122 units, as Hyundai was offering good deals on the car. On the other hand, sales of Hyundai’s i10 have dropped 12% to 10,174 units. Some of this drop could be due to some cannibalization from the Eon and the other could be because of Maruti getting aggressive with promotions on its competing models such as the Wagon R, which has seen sales bounce back.
Maruti back in the lead
After facing huge production issues due to labor strikes at its plant in Manesar, which led to a drastic drop in sales of almost all its models in October, pulling the whole industry down, Maruti sales are back at familiar levels. The world’s largest selling hatchback, the Maruti Alto has seen sales bounce back to 24,422 cars, much better than its previous three-month’s performance. This figure includes both the Alto 800 and Alto K10. Sales of the Wagon-R too have bounced back to over 12,000 cars, putting Maruti back in a comfortable leadership position.
The other car brand that’s been slowly creeping up the charts is the Tata Indica and Vista combine, which has seen a moderate increase to 10,900 odd cars. Tata’s Nano too, which has been seeing a roller-coaster ride through the year, has seen sales more than double from October to 6,400 cars in November, thanks to the introduction of the 2012 Nano, with slightly improved features, and presumably solved technical glitches.
Honda has had a rough month, with the Thailand floods hitting production of the Brio, a car that it was banking on for volumes. Sales of the Brio were at just 666 units because of production constraints. General Motor’s Beat has been holding steady thanks to the diesel variant, with just a small drop in sales in November.
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The hatchback space is set to get even more competitive in the new year. Maruti is going to be showcasing at least two new hatchback models during the Auto Expo in January that it plans to introduce in India, such as the MR Wagon and Palette. Tata may unveil a diesel-powered Nano soon, while Maruti too may bring in a smaller diesel engine (1000 cc) that may go into some of its hatches.
(Source: Team-BHP, Industry sources)