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Slowdown Blues: Maruti Suzuki Alto sales decline 54% in August; lowest in 15 years

Sumant Banerji     September 6, 2019

India's largest selling car for 15 straight years, which is also its bestselling car historically, witnessed a steep 54.5 per cent fall in sales in August 2019 at just 10,123 units. This was Alto's lowest tally in a month since April 2004 when 9,350 units were dispatched to the dealers.

However, following that, it had become the country's best selling car for the first time in a month in May 2004 when its tally stood at 10,373 units against the then bestseller Maruti 800's 10,016 units. It was also the first fiscal (2003-04) when Alto went on to end Maruti 800's nearly two decade long hold at the top. It is a position it hasn't relinquished till date.

The crash in sales in August has seen Alto lose four slots to stablemates Dzire, Swift, WagonR and Baleno and drop down to number 5 in the bestseller's list for the month, another low since 2001. It is symptomatic of the consumer's shift in preference in India towards more feature-rich and powerful cars which has been aggravated by an unprecedented downturn in the overall automotive industry in the country.

The bestselling car for the month, Maruti Dzire, registered a 40 per cent decline in sales followed by Swift at 35 per cent, WagonR at 16.5 per cent and Baleno at 37.52 per cent. The only two cars in the list that bucked the trend were Maruti Eeco, which registered a 32.26 per cent growth at 8,658 units, and the Ertiga MPV, which posted a 139 per cent jump in sales at 8,391 units on the back of the refreshed version in November 2018 and the addition of a more premium variant in the XL6 last month.

The sole new entrant in the list was Hyundai's maiden compact SUV Venue which at 9,342 units extended its leadership position in the segment over Maruti's Vitara Brezza for the second straight month. Brezza saw a 46 per cent decline in sales at 7,109 units. The only other non Maruti brand in the top 10 was the Hyundai Grand i10 at the number 6 position with sales of 9,403 units, a decline of 18 per cent.

Despite the big decline in sales in August, Alto retains its hold at the top of the table for the first five months of this fiscal 2019-20 so far with a lead of more than 4,000 units over Dzire. Its sales in this period have dropped by 25.5 per cent at 79,593 units while Dzire's sales have declined by over 38 per cent in the same time at 75,805 units. In October 2015, Alto became the bestselling car in India historically when its cumulative sales crossed 2.9 million units in India overtaking Maruti 800's count in the process.   

In fiscal 2019, Alto's tally was 259,401 units, a marginal 0.33 per cent growth over the previous fiscal, versus Dzire's 253,859 units, up 5.72 per cent over fiscal 2018. Its peak annual sales volume was in fiscal 2011 when a record 346,840 customers had bought the car. 

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