The last financial year 2018-2019 hasn’t been a pretty bright one for the automotive industry. There were multiple factors at play that resulted in a slow growth of just 2.7 percent year-on-year overall in the passenger car market in India.
Car sales were hit by higher insurance costs owing to an increase in third party premiums, rising fuel prices because of fluctuations in oil, and high interest rates on auto loans. The price of diesel has risen more than petrol reducing the cost differential between the fuels and affecting demand.
In markets like the Delhi-NCR region, which accounts for nearly 12 percent of the total passenger car sales, a change in diesel car registration norms also affected overall demand.
However, while overall sales compared to the previous year were lower for some, the best-selling list did have a few surprises. Here’s the list with data compiled from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.
Best-Selling Entry Hatchbacks
The overall entry hatchback segment was the worst hit. It’s the most price-sensitive market. So besides the Maruti Suzuki Alto, all other cars saw a drop in sales compared to the previous year. Total sales in the segment were down about 15 percent from 4.32 lakh cars to 3.69 lakh cars.
The segment numbers also dropped because cars like the Tata Nano were discontinued and sales of Hyundai Eon dropped drastically. Only the Maruti Suzuki Alto managed to clock about 2.59 lakh units, about the same as the previous year.
Best-Selling Compact Hatchbacks
It looks like most first-time car buyers now directly buy into the mid-size compact hatchback segment (popularly called the Santro-WagonR segment). This segment saw sales grow about 6 percent overall to 8.11 lakh units.
The year saw the Hyundai Santro make a comeback, but it hasn’t quite been as well received as it was earlier. The market leader continues to be the Maruti Swift, followed by the Maruti WagonR in this segment. While WagonR sales dropped in anticipation of the new one coming in, sales of the Maruti Swift grew over 26 percent.
Best-Selling Premium Hatchbacks
The Maruti Suzuki Baleno continues to dominate the segment as India’s best-selling premium hatchback selling 2.12 lakh cars in the past year, a growth of 11 percent from the previous year. The second best-selling car in the segment is the Hyundai i20 selling 1.4 lakh cars, a growth of just 3 percent.
With the Toyota Glanza and Tata Altroz also coming into the segment, it’s likely to grow a bit this year. However, there’s the risk of compact-SUVs scuttling some sales from this segment.
Best-Selling Compact SUVs
Compact SUVs appear to be the flavour of the year apart from compact sedans. The segment saw growth of 6 percent overall. The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza continues to be the segment leader in compact SUVs selling 1.57 lakh units, up 6 percent from the previous years 1.48 lakh units.
The best performer though was the Tata Nexon that saw sales double to 55,000 units from half that the previous year. The fact that the Tata Nexon got a 5-star Global NCAP safety rating probably helped its case.
And there’s a new entrant in this space, the Mahindra XUV300, that clocked 9,200 plus units in just two months. In the next few months, the Hyundai Venue will shake things up some more in this segment.
Best-Selling Mid-Size SUVs
The country’s largest-selling mid-size SUV continues to be the Hyundai Creta, with sales volumes that are envious. It grew 16 percent to 1.24 lakh units. The second largest-selling SUV continues to be the humble Mahindra Bolero, selling over 84,000 units about the same as the previous year, followed by the Mahindra Scorpio at 47,837 units a drop of 11 percent from the previous year.
This segment has seen new entrants like the Tata Harrier and the Nissan Kicks making an entry, growing the overall segment by about 7 percent.
Best-Selling Premium SUVs
The luxury SUV market appears to have shrunk a bit despite the entry of new SUVs like the 2018 Honda CR-V and Mahindra Alturas. Except for the Skoda Kodiaq that sold 2,010 vehicles, up from 1,400 the previous year, none of the others appear to have sold more than they did in the previous year.
The segment leader continues to be the Toyota Fortuner, selling 21,141 units in the year compared to 24,364 the previous year. Sales of the Ford Endeavour, the second-placed SUV in the segment stood at 5,829 units, down from 6,920 the previous year.
Best-Selling Compact Sedans
Besides compact SUVs, the other hot favourite type of vehicle are compact sedans. The compact sedan market grew about 13 percent year on year, thanks mainly to the Maruti Suzuki Dzire and the new Honda Amaze, whose sales have shot up.
Honda Amaze sales shot up from 21,668 units to 85,061 units in the year, a growth of close to 300 percent after the introduction of the new Amaze in May 2018. All the others saw their sales dropping from the previous year.
Best-Selling Mid-Size Sedans
The mid-size appears to have shrunk as well, despite the entrance of the Toyota Yaris in the segment. The Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, which got a facelift in the year, continues to be the leader, but sales dropped 22 percent to 46,169 units. Honda City too dropped 27 percent to 41,072 units.
The Hyundai Verna, however, appears to have clawed back some lost ground, climbing 10 percent to 39,568 units, closing in on the Honda City. The presence of compact SUVs in the same price bracket appears to have hit the mid-size sedan market.
Best-Selling Premium Sedans
The premium sedan market saw an overall drop in sales despite the entry of the new Honda Civic in the segment. The Civic managed to clock 2,291 units in just a single month.
That’s impressive considering the segment leader, the Toyota Corolla Altis, sold only 2,783 units in the year compared to 4,699 the previous year. Sales of the Skoda Octavia stood at 2,624 units, about 150 cars less than it sold the previous year.
It’s quite possible that the Honda Civic will become the new segment leader this year.
Multi-utility vehicles saw a boost in sales overall thanks to the introduction of the Mahindra Marazzo and the all-new Maruti Suzuki Ertiga in the year. The Toyota Innova Crysta continues to be the segment leader, growing 5 percent in sales to 77,924 units.
The Maruti Suzuki Ertiga sold about as much as it did the previous year at 65,263 units. But sales of the Mahindra Xylo and Renault Lodgy saw sharp drops.
For 2019-2020, the SUV and compact segments will continue to be in focus, with most manufacturers launching a fleet of vehicles. However, projections on numbers aren’t optimistic given the shift in emission norms and crash safety that will see some vehicles go out of the market.
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