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Feb 2013 : Indian Car Sales & Analysis

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January showed us a good start to the year, but things weren’t as sunny in February. Nearly all manufacturers, including Maruti, recorded month-on-month as well as year-on-year losses. Look at the last chart of the opening post. Only 3 manufacturers have recorded Y-O-Y gains. Net industry volume was 2.14 lakh units, down from 2.30 lakhs of Jan 2013 and 2.60 lakhs of Feb 2012. 

A regular month for India’s largest car manufacturer. While overall sales are down 5K M-O-M and 10K Y-O-Y, there is no stopping the Swift (touching 20,000 units!!) and cars based on its platform; the Swift, Dzire & Ertiga together account for 43,000 sales. That’s more than the total volume of the No.2 manufacturer - Hyundai! These 3 cars have lots of parts in common and their contribution to the company’s bottom line is massive. I must add that the Ertiga appears to be settling at the 6K level, and not 7K as some of us had predicted earlier. The new Alto is a consistent mid-20’s performer, shipping out 25,000 copies in a month that had fewer days. A face-lift isn’t doing much for the Ritz, and massive discounts seem to have cleared up dead Kizashi inventory. Duds like the A-Star & Estilo waste prime showroom space. The SX4’s yo-yo performance can be attributed to a shift to the face-lift version (expected soon). 

Hyundai manages to maintain the Jan momentum, suffering a smaller Y-O-Y loss and actually gaining a point of market share. The i20, Verna & Elantra do well in their respective segments (the sedans especially). Even though the Eon & i10 have lost about 2,000 units Y-O-Y, their performance is still respectable. A 25% bump up in the aging Santro’s volumes, but it’s truly time up for the other old Hyundai….the Accent. Hyundai should kill it ASAP. The Sonata sells an exact 20 for the 6th month in a row. This is so obviously a fixed quota imposed on its dealers, whether they like it or not.

The Bolero’s sales impressively stay in the 5 digits. The XUV500 & Scorpio continue to dominate their respective segments, though there is a slight blip in February numbers. But the surprise here is the Rexton : It’s slowly & steadily inching toward the 500 mark. From the time of its launch, each month has brought about an increase in demand. Quanto sales have dropped by 30%, after two months of being at the 3K level. We’ll be watching this compact SUV closely over the coming quarters. By Mahindra standards, the Xylo is a poor runner. 

We have a new No.4 on the charts and that’s Toyota! As expected, Toyota’s UVs aren’t letting off the accelerator, with the Innova & Fortuner recording their best scores in 6 months. In fact, the 20 lakh Fortuner sells nearly as much as the 5 lakh rupee Toyota hatchback. It’ll be interesting to see if the budget’s excise duty hike impacts the pricey Innova. Where the Etios might just about manage to please its makers, the Liva & Corolla are struggling. Toyota’s expectation of the Liva was about 3 times the current volume. 

Tata moves a dismally low 10,000 cars last month. To put things in perspective, that is less than a third of its Feb 2012 tally. Every Tata car is under pressure, right from the cheap Nano to the premium Aria. Tough times ahead for Tata management indeed. They are going to be burning the midnight oil to overhaul the image, quality & pace of development of its passenger car division. Tata once enjoyed the USPs of space & diesel economy; in the last 3 years, every major global brand has launched products in the 4 – 7 lakh price band. 

Except for the dependable Tavera, every other Chevrolet records a noticeable dip in demand. The Beat diesel falls to 2,300 units, but the Sail U-VA runs out of breath even before it started running. The Cruze is a shadow of its 2012 self.

I’d predicted that the Duster might have had a production hiccup in January. That statement is validated as Renault’s SUV blazes past the 5,500 mark. The other Renaults however, continue to languish. Premium pricing might work for the Duster because of the lack of competition, but it clearly doesn’t for the Pulse & Scala. 

The Brio & City, both, have a good month, bringing in a combined 6,000 dispatches and helping Honda move ahead of VW. The current generation Jazz enters the final phase of its life with 185 shipments. The CR-V is locally assembled, thus wearing a better price. Still, the lack of a diesel option will ensure it doesn’t get too far. The Civic is now the worst selling Honda. The company’s petrol-only position is all set to change later this month; you can look forward to a detailed review of the first diesel from Honda's Indian stable. 

The Polo has a decent month, even if it isn’t as strong as its performance in January 2013. The Vento is settling at the 2,000 level. Overall, VW’s performance isn’t good enough, with the company recording sharp losses in the M-O-M & Y-O-Y charts. For its premium pricing, the Jetta is doing rather well, although you can’t say the same about the Passat. 

The big news with Ford is really the launch of the EcoSport which the market awaits with bated breath. The Figo was dated at the time of its launch and feels old now; the sales reflect that. The Figo special edition launch on Monday had better offer free goodies. The ol’ Fiesta is quite the yo-yo car. From 1,500 units in December, it’s fallen to a mere 500 in February. New Fiesta is choking at 63 shipments; the Rs. 20 lakh Endeavour sells twice as much! 

Nissan looks absolutely directionless. The Sunny sells merely 1,200 copies and the Micra manages ½ that. Unfortunate that the Evalia’s story has ended already. Neither did Nissan market the people-carrier well, nor did it keep its dealer relationships strong at what was a crucial time. 

A similar story at Skoda. This company was once at the top of the game. However, the Laura is now too old, with the market preferring more contemporary sedans and SUVs. Good thing that the new Octavia / Laura is coming to India this year. The Rapid is the only car that keeps the register ringing in Aurangabad. Meanwhile, the Superb is the leader of its segment, even if the D2 sedan category has shrunk awfully low in terms of sheer volume. 

HM managed to sell 545 Ambassadors! I bet that all of the senior citizen Amby product managers are partying tonight. For an SUV backed by a weak brand and limited dealer support, the Pajero Sport is enjoying a superb stint. 

Fiat is at a distant last position. Cumulative volumes are 25% that….of Hindustan Motors.

 
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