Snapshot – Selling cars in India is not easy and building best sellers is like climbing the K2. Global majors such as General Motors and Ford have tried, and have failed to produce a single best seller in India so far. Apart from Maruti Suzuki, only Hyundai has found the recipe for selling big. How big? How about a million cars from a single model range? Well, this brings us to the millionaire club, a story that profiles five cars that have sold a million apiece in India.
2.95 million units in 31 years. That’s the Maruti 800’s sales count in India. Introduced in 1983, the car is a legend of sorts and is rightfully credited with putting India on four wheels. The Maruti 800 arrived a fresh breath of air in a market stuck with the likes of the Hindustan Ambassador and the Premier Padmini. Quick, fuel efficient, compact and very, very reliable, the Maruti 800 was an instant success. The car had to be steadily eased out in the noughties in order to allow its sibling, the Alto, breathing space. The last 800 rolled out of Gurgaon in February last year.
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The replacement to the Maruti 800, the Alto took its time to begin firing. In fact, Maruti Suzuki gradually eased out the 800 from BS-4 markets to give the Alto an upper hand. The car made best use of the opportunity and a new legend was born. With over 2.75 million units sold in India, the Alto is a massive sales spinner and India’s best selling car currently. The hatchback is available with 796cc and 1 liter petrol engines in triple cylinder layouts. The Alto sells on the strengths of the Maruti Suzuki brand, reliability, fuel efficiency and affordable maintenance costs.
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The Maruti Omni, a passenger van that’s use by lakhs of Indians as a passenger car, is a veteran of the Indian market. Why, the Omni is the oldest vehicle in serial production, what with the first model rolling out of Maruti Suzuki’s Gurgaon factory in 1984. Despite being a decade old, with a shape that largely stays true to the original, the breadbox on wheels brings in over 6,000 unit sales each month. The Omni is versatile, an serves in various capacities. From being a school van to an ambulace and to even a food truck, the grizzled veteran has seen it all.
The Swift hatchback is of the biggest recent successes from Maruti Suzuki. The car just completed a decade of existance in India. Like the Alto, the Swift started a little slow, and the real momentum arrived when Maruti Suzuki plonked in the 1.3 liter Fiat Multijet diesel motor into the car’s engine bay. From there on, the Swift hasn’t looked back and 1.3 million examples of the car have found happy Indian homes. The car continues to be the best selling B+ segment hatchback in the country, and will soon gain an AMT option.
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Hyundai Santro Xing
The Hyundai Santro made the South Korean brand a name to reckon with in India. The first car from Hyundai for India, the Santro has been the biggest successes of the brand yet, with 1.35 million examples of the hatchback being sold here. Hyundai has also exported over half a million units of the car, before it was discontinued last year after a production run that spanned over 15 years. Scores of Santro Xing hatchbacks can still be seen on Indian roads. A tough, no-frills car with a torquey petrol motor, the Santro Xing is the only non-Maruti Suzuki car to hit the million mark in India. That says it all.
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