In what could be one of the first encouraging signs for cars running on petrol,Maruti Suzukis new Alto 800 is leading the companys charge in the festive season with over 17,000 bookings in the first four days. The festive season began with the Navratras on October 16 and will continue till around Diwali in mid-November.
Meanwhile,the rush for diesel cars continues. Mahindras Quanto compact SUV has crossed 6,200 bookings since launch on September 21,while its Ssangyong Rexton premium SUV has seen bookings in a few hundreds after being unveiled just two days back. Renaults Duster has already crossed the 20,000-unit booking number in the two and a half months since it hit the roads.
Mayank Pareek,Marutis COO for marketing & sales,said that over October last year,showroom enquiries for the Alto are already up 32%. This takes the car market leaders overall demand for its range up by 15% in the same period.
Around 200 Altos are being delivered today in one go by our dealer at Malappuram,Kerala,in a major event. Though its still early into the festival season,response in the first four days have been very good, he said.
The Alto,Marutis largest-selling brand for the last eight years,sold about 24,000 units a month at its peak in FY12,after which monthly volumes tapered to about 14,000 units by August this year,largely on the waning demand for petrol cars in the country.
Hyundais latest launch,the new Elantra mid-size sedan,has also climbed at the top of its segment since launch on August 13,said Hyundais Group Head for Marketing,Nalin Kapoor. Previously,the mid-size premium sedan market leader was the Toyota Corolla,while the Chevrolet Cruze is most favoured by those looking for diesel cars. Available in both petrol and diesel,the Elantra sold 1,389 units in August and September combined.
Early positive signs into the festival season may be encouraging for carmakers after a tough first six months,though analysts say that the growth is largely due to new launches rather than a buoyant market. Maruti has particular reason to rejoice given production is now coming back on track after a significant cut since July due to a labour clash,which has dragged sales down for the past many months.
Passenger car sales growth for the industry in the first half of FY13 has been flat at 9.09 lakh units,though diesel-dominated utility vehicle sales were up 56% in the period to 2.55 lakh units. With mostly petrol models,sales in the compact car segment (Alto,Hyundais Eon and Santro) fell 16% to 2.49 lakh units. Meanwhile,sales for the premium hatchback segment (Maruti Swift,Hyundai i10 and i20),where both petrol and diesel engines are on offer,went up 3% to 3.87 lakh units.
While General Motors new Chevrolet Sail hatchback is still awaited in early November,other carmakers have chosen to launch new variants and refresh its existing range in order to create excitement in the festive season and pick up sales. Ford made minor cosmetic changes to the Figo hatch,while Maruti did the same with the Ritz. Honda has added an automatic transmission variant to its entry offering,the Brio compact hatch.