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Maruti Alto emerges as India's bestselling car for 16th year in a row

Sumant Banerji     April 4, 2020

  • Maruti accounted for the top 7 bestselling cars in the country in 2019-20; Hyundai accounted for the next three
  • Maruti Eeco and Hyundai Venue were the two new entrants in the top 10
  • Wagon R was the biggest gainer with a 31% jump in sales. Eeco was the only other car in the top 10 to post a growth
  • Alto registered a steep 26% drop in sales. Its annual sales tally is the lowest since 2005-06
  • Brezza was the biggest loser with a 30% drop in sales

Against all odds and in a market that has witnessed an unprecedented slowdown, Japanese carmaker Maruti Suzuki's entry level hatchback Alto has held on to its pole position in the domestic market for the 16th consecutive year in 2019-20.

The no frills car, however, registered a steep 26.4 per cent drop in sales at 190,814 units. This was the first time since 2005-06 that it has sold less than 2 lakh units in a year. It managed to hold on to its position largely due to its nearest competitor in 2018-19, Dzire, registering an even steeper 29.4 per cent drop in sales at 179,159 units. It has dropped down two spots to the fourth position this year.

Alto's nearest rival this year was the Swift, which was less than 3,000 units behind it but also suffered a 16 per cent drop in sales. At third position was the company's premium hatchback Baleno, which recorded a 15 per cent decline in sales at 180,413 units. For the first time ever, the top four bestselling cars are this closely bunched together with less than an average month's sales separating any of the cars.

With the market slowly graduating towards more feature rich, bigger and safer cars, Alto has been losing ground for quite sometime and is well below its peak of 2011-12 when sales had topped 300,000 units. The launch of the S Presso last October has also eaten into its sales. The lack of diesel engine in  its nearest rivals-Baleno, Swift and Dzire, is likely to stunt their volumes as well, which may help Alto hold on to its top position for a few more years.

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The biggest gainer during the year was another old warhorse, the Maruti Wagon R. Benefitting from a life-cycle change in February 2019, it registered a 31 per cent jump in sales at 156,724 units helping it gain four spots to the fifth position. Another big gainer was the Maruti Eeco that gained at the behest of the discontinuation of Omni van last year. Eeco recorded a 27.4 per cent increase in sales and was the sixth largest selling car in the country in 2019-20. Eeco was also one of the two new entrants in the top 10 along with Hyundai's compact SUV Venue, which was at the tenth spot.

Venue's entry was at the cost of Maruti's own SUV Brezza, which was the biggest loser in the top 10 with a 30 percent decline in sales during the fiscal. The confusion over its future in the middle of last year after Maruti announced it would not extend the lifecycle of its 1.3 diesel engine in the BS VI emission regime, contributed to Brezza losing two spots to number 7 last fiscal.

Hyundai had two other cars in the top 10, the Elite i20 and Grand i10 Nios. Both registered over 20 per cent drop in sales individually during the fiscal. Right outside the top 10 were the Maruti Ertiga with sales of 90,547 units a 39 per cent growth over 2018-19, the Hyundai Creta with 82,074 units down 34 per cent and its arch rival and nemesis the Kia Seltos just 90 cars behind at 81,984 units.

ALSO READ: Battle against coronavirus: Maruti ties up with AgVA Healthcare to produce 10,000 ventilators per month

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