Maruti's 15-year-old compact hatchback Swift has overtaken its long time bestselling mini car Alto in 2020 to emerge as the best selling car in the country.
With this, Swift has emulated its sedan version Dzire, which had outsold the Alto in 2018 and was the only other car to have done so in 15 years. Alto had, however, reclaimed that position in 2019. It once again reinforces the trend of consumers graduating from small, no-frills cars to more modern and feature-rich models.
In a year when the overall economy was battered by the pandemic, almost all cars in the top 10 list registered a decline in sales. The only exception was new entrant Kia Seltos where a year on year comparison isn't possible as it was launched only in August 2019. Due to the lockdown in the first half of the year which robbed the companies of sales for almost two full months, industry volumes are estimated to have declined by 17 per cent in 2020 over 2019.
Alto registered a steep 26 per cent drop in sales at 154,076 units, which in percentage terms was better than only two other cars in the list -- Dzire and Brezza down 37 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively. In relative terms, the Swift and Maruti's premium hatchback Baleno fared better with identical 16.2 per cent decline. It helped Swift gain two positions while Baleno rose to the third spot, just a shade behind Alto. The entry-level mini car also suffered due to the entry of a direct rival in S-Presso in 2019. S Presso's tally was a sizeable 67,690 units.
The biggest losers were Dzire and Hyundai's premium hatchback Elite i20. The former suffered on account of Maruti's decision to discontinue diesel models, which also had a major impact on its compact SUV Brezza. In the last few years, Brezza had strengthened its hold as the bestselling SUV in the country but lack of a diesel powertrain, which is traditionally the preferred fuel in SUVs, and intense competition from Hyundai Venue and Kia Sonet, saw it drop four places to the 10th spot. It was ahead of Venue by only a little over 1,200 units.
Hyundai's mid-sized SUV Creta, which received a full lifecycle change just before the lockdown in April, was the most resilient brand registering only a 2.75 per cent drop in sales. With nearly 97,000 unit sales, it has become the largest selling SUV in the country outselling even the smaller and cheaper compact SUVs. Its direct rival Kia Seltos also had a strong showing in its first full year and the extent of the competition can be gauged by the fact that it was behind Creta by just 57 units.
Kia was the only outsider in the list which is traditionally completely dominated by Maruti and Hyundai brands. It came in at the cost of Elite i20, which suffered a 40 per cent decline in sales. This was mainly due to the run-off phase in the build-up to the launch of the next-generation version of the car in November 2020. In 2019, it was the seventh-largest selling car in the country.
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