Top 10 bestselling cars of 2017: Alto on 13-year high, Brezza, Baleno biggest movers
Sumant Banerji January 8, 2018
The year 2017 clearly belonged to Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. The company achieved its long-cherished dream of 50 per cent plus share in a fiercely competitive market. This is something that even the most ardent admirer of the firm may not have thought possible till a couple of years ago. Maruti's dominance clearly shows in the list of bestselling cars. It has completely monopolised the top five podium positions and now accounts for seven of the top 10. The list has cars that have all individually clocked over 100,000 units in the year -- a good psychological mark to attain, and not surprisingly, Hyundai accounts for the three slots left by Maruti.
Maruti Alto: 257,732 units +5.16% over 2016
The old war horse Maruti Alto chugs along nicely retaining its stranglehold at the top of the podium for the 13th consecutive calendar year. With a 5.2 per cent growth in sales in 2017, it has successfully seen off the challenge of Renault Kwid as well, which could not sustain its first year heroics and bowed out of this list. Alto has seen better days in its lifetime, and is some way off its peak sales of over 300,000 unit per annum mark from a few years back. This year may see the end of its reign at the top by stablemate Dzire but it remains a bread and butter model for Maruti. And will remain so for years.
Maruti Dzire: 225,043 units +11.37% over 2016
The Dzire got a full life-cycle change in the middle of 2017, which immediately made an impact. Already near its annual peak sales, a waiting period of up to three months clearly suggests there is much more to come. The car continues to be powered by Maruti's tried and tested 1.2 litre KB series petrol and 1.3 litre mutli jet diesel engines with an addition of the automatic manual gearbox - the only novelty as far as technology is concerned. The Dzire best answers India's need for mobility scoring high on fuel economy, value for money, low cost of after sales, service, and high resale value. In 2018, it looks set to take the mantle from Alto as the country's largest selling car.
Maruti Baleno: 175,209 units +63.65% over 2016
One of the fastest growing nameplates in the country, the Baleno benefits from two factors -- the not so gradual shift in consumer preference from budget to semi-premium small cars and expansion of Maruti's premium Nexa dealerships. For much of its short life span, Baleno played a cat and mouse game with arch rival Hyundai Elite i20 but the additional production capacity from Gujarat last year saw it steam ahead and settle the matter for good. It is fast becoming the company's new milching cow.
Maruti Swift: 167,371 units -0.70% over 2016
Since its launch in 2005, Swift has been rewriting the rules of the game in the small-car segment. Arguably, it has faced the most intense competition in terms of rivals trying to upstage it. From a Chevrolet Beat to Nissan Micra or a Volkswagen Polo and Hyundai Grand i10, there are almost a dozen cars that have tried to queer its pitch with no success. It had a muted year in 2017 and is currently well below its peak but that's largely due to in house cannibalisation with Baleno. Like the Dzire in 2017, Swift will see a makeover this year and all the bets are that it will have a similar impact on its fortunes.
Maruti Wagon R: 166,815 units -3.73% over 2016
This boxy little car has been around for decades and though one would assume it is past its sell by date, it continues to shore up the numbers. One of Maruti's original tall boy cars, Wagon R finds itself in great demand in small towns where people only look at a Maruti. It costs more than an Alto but it's a great hit with families. The imminent demise of Santro also helped its case. Its CNG version apparently accounts for a sizable portion of its sales and is a much sought after variant in select pockets of the country where the fuel is available.
Hyundai Grand i10: 154,747 units +13.63% over 2016
The i10 Grand consolidates its position as the only real small car that can give Maruti a run for its money. Like many Hyundai's successes in the past, it had a relatively slow start but is now inching very close to Wagon R in a hark back to the days when Santro used to go toe to toe with it. Heavy discounts, attractive promotional schemes and a cosmetic mini facelift in 2017 helped its case, but that is now part of the game in India now. The Indian customer just loves a good bargain.
Maruti Brezza: 140,945 units +65.49 % over 2016
The biggest mover in 2017, Brezza is now by far the biggest selling SUV in the country. A product entirely spearheaded by engineers in India, the significance of Brezza's success goes beyond mere numbers. Yet, once again its displays the power of Maruti. Despite being a tad too late in the game and perhaps handicapped by the lack of a petrol engine, the Brezza is still going great guns. With a petrol engine and automatic variants in the works, there are more highs in the offing for this one.
Hyundai Elite i20: 116,260 units -5.09% over 2016
The Elite i20 sees its first decline in sales in a year,but it continues to be a rock solid performer for the Korean firm. The precursor to Baleno as the most loved hot hatch in the country, i20 still looks stylish and premium for a three-year-old brand. Its stagnant sales are also a factor of the market's fall out with diesel powertrains, an area where Hyundai is quite strong.
Hyundai Creta: 105,484 units +13.51 % over 2016
Hyundai flexes its muscles with the Creta and its continual growth in sales has surprised many. This is not a very affordable product and there are many others that can be had for a lower price, but its success shows a consumer it willing to pay more for a good product. How else can one explain it selling double the tally of traditional favorites like Scorpio? If not for the Brezza, Creta would have been the largest selling SUV in the country. To the puritan, who would call one a pseudo, Creta probably still is.
The only new entrant in the list, which comes with no surprises, is Celerio. Its success aided by the AMT technology proves nothing beats a Maruti when it comes to making low cost fuel economical city cars. In the last couple of years, it has seen direct competition from Tata Tiago but a double digit increase in sales in 2017 proves it has held its own.