Maruti Alto remains the world’s largest-selling car, zooms ahead of other hatchbacks

March was a good month for carmakers in India. The impending April 1 price hikes and the end of the financial year for many companies saw car sales spurt for almost all carmakers. Many companies usually buy cars in March to avail depreciation benefits for tax purposes.

Let’s take a look at how hatchbacks fared. We’re leaving the premium hatchbacks out of this list, and shall look at their numbers separately.

Alto K10 road test image
Photo: The Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 has a fresh face and sporty engine

The Maruti Suzuki Alto has emerged as the world’s largest selling car month on month. In March, Maruti sold 38,065 Altos. To put this figure in perspective, it is more than twice the number of cars sold in the number two and number three spots, which is the Maruti Wagon R and Hyundai i10 respectively. If you take Maruti as a company, the Alto sold more cars than all its competition put together! In fact, the Alto’s sales rival some two-wheel er sales in the country. Also read: Maruti Alto K10 review and road test

The sales figures for the Alto are those of the regular 800 cc Alto and the Alto K10 put together. Last year, before the launch of the Alto K10, Alto sales averaged about 22,000 cars a month, but the introduction of the K10 has seen volumes increase by at least 15,000 cars a month.

The Maruti 800, which was once India’s largest-selling car, is now in its sunset years. The car is not being sold in metros anymore and is available only in Tier II cities, as an entry level car, with only the Tata Nano for competition. Sales of the Maruti 800 are down to about 2,900 cars a month now.

Tata’s are breathing a sigh of relief. After an aggressive ad campaign and promotions, the sales of the Nano have crept up, after a dismal 500 cars sold in November 2010, to 6,000 in December and now 8707 cars being sold in March 2011 – a positive end to the financial year. The Nano now comes in at number four on the list of small hatchbacks. (If you include premium hatchbacks, then the Ford Figo and Maruti Swift come in at positions four and five overall, above the Nano). But sales of the Nano are still nowhere near what they should be, given the Nano’s pricing.

The Tata Nano’s base version is priced at Rs. 1.22 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi, while the Maruti Alto LX (base version) is priced at Rs. 2.63 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi, yet, the Alto is way ahead in sales. This is primarily due to the trust in the Maruti brand built over the years, and the overall trouble-free ownership reviews of Alto customers. The Nano, though, has been plagued with quality issues, the worst of which was the six Nanos that caught fire last year. Sales of Tata’s other hatchbacks, the Indica and Vista have declined in March, compared to the previous month.

Another interesting battle to watch is the Maruti Wagon R vs the Hyundai i10. Both cars are neck and neck in sales selling over 14,000 cars a month. Maruti’s refreshed Wagon R introduced early last year, with the K-Series engine has put a new spark into the brand. Hyundai gave the i10 a facelift in October and offers a wider choice of variants and two engine options with the i10.

The first week of April saw a round of price increases from Maruti, Tata and Toyota, with Hyundai planning to follow suit. But this may not really change the sales order. Overall Maruti dominates this segment with six models of cars to play with and see off the competition.


March 2011 sales – Small hatchbacks in India

Alto 38065
WagonR 14885
i10 14215
Nano 8707
Santro 8026
Indica 6937
Ritz 6059
Estilo 4403
Spark 3289
A Star 2934
Maruti 800 2915

Source: Team-BHP, Industry data

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