04 August 2016 10:09:10 IST

Maruti is not just a ‘small’ car maker anymore

July was special for Maruti Suzuki, which reported its highest-ever monthly sales in India

July was special for Maruti Suzuki, which reported its highest-ever monthly sales in India.

Beyond the figure of 1.26 lakh units, what is even more significant is that its entire range is doing well. In the process, Maruti has effectively shown that it has evolved beyond the image of a small carmaker.

For instance, its recently launched Vitara Brezza SUV reported sales of 10,232 units in July — a big jump from its average of 7,000 plus units till a few months ago. Developed by the Maruti R&D team, it is now the largest selling SUV with Hyundai’s Creta following with around 8,000 units in the domestic market (and another 5,000 plus in exports).

Mahindra & Mahindra, which was the market leader in this segment, has seen its top-seller Bolero take a hit even while its top management is upbeat about its revival in the coming months. Likewise, models like Renault Duster have seen a fall in numbers from the initial highs of 6,000 units each month following its launch over three years ago.

Maruti’s Ertiga sold 6,625 units in July, again a big jump from its average of 5,000-odd units in the previous months. It is also a clear indicator that the company’s utility vehicle business has struck a chord with customers and with the 1,500 units of the S-Cross, its overall monthly numbers are around 18,000 units in this space. Incidentally, June saw a slump in volumes that was a result of a fire at the premises of its key supplier, Subros, which affected production.

Baleno’s comeback

July’s good showing was also helped by the Baleno, which did 9,120 units and is now on track to reach the 10,000-per-month mark. From Maruti’s point of view, this should be especially welcome considering that this was a failed brand in the sedan space many years ago and has now made a strong comeback in the premium hatchback segment.

“Between the Brezza and Baleno, there is a backlog of over one lakh bookings, which translates into a waiting period of 6-7 months on an average,” said a Maruti spokesperson. The Ciaz also had a good run in July with 5,162 units, keeping in line with its monthly average.

Consequently, it has put a lot of pressure on the Honda City whose sales were 4,317 units in July, a fall from 5,000 plus units recorded in March and April and over 8,000 units in January. It now looks as if both the Baleno and Ciaz are doing the trick for Maruti in the sedan space and it will be interesting to see how Honda steps on the gas to boost City volumes.

Alto, remains the leader

What is equally significant for Maruti is that Swift and Dzire have clocked a combined 32,000 units in July with the latter ahead with nearly 19,000 units. In addition, Celerio is also averaging 8,000 units while the Alto remains the leader in the entry-level category with 19,000 units.

While Renault’s Kwid has also made a strong statement in this segment with sales now at nearly 10,000 units each month, the Alto has still managed to hold its own. Market sources say that this is also in large part due to Maruti’s stronger retail network across the country and it remains to be seen how quickly Kwid catches up as Renault increases its distribution network.

A section of Maruti’s rivals believes the July numbers should also be seen in the context of the June slump where it was only natural to make up lost ground in the following month. However, the company insists that the momentum is in place for its entire line-up which will be apparent in the reminder of this fiscal. “Our focus on design and technology has paid off with all our models reporting brisk sales,” said the spokesperson.