In a time of coronavirus, the country, industry, and the world at large are experiencing really tough times, and it will be many months before some semblance of normalcy returns. The Indian automotive market, which is witnessing a bloodbath on the sales front – 16,46,332 vehicles sold in February 2020 (-19.08 percent), and 2,04,98,128 unit sold between April 2019 and February 2020 (-15.85 percent) – will see even worse numbers in the months to come.
The passenger vehicle (PV) segment is also badly down: 2,51,516 units in February (-7.61 percent) and 26,32,665 units in the April 2019 to February 2020 (-14.68 percent) period. If there is a glimmer of hope for PVs, then it emanates from the utility vehicle (UV) segment.
At 83,351 units in February (0.10 percent) and 8,94,441 units in the first 11 months of FY2020 (5.44 percent), UVs accounted for 33.13 percent and 34 percent respectively – proof enough how they are buffering what would have been even sharper sales declines. UVs, along with M&HCV buses, constitute the only two segments (out of 13) to be in the black, both in February, as well as between April 2019 and February 2020. Let's take a closer look at the specific UV models that are enabling this sales performance.
Kia Seltos sells 14,024 units, crosses 75,000 milestone in seven months
The unstoppable Kia Seltos, it seems, can do no wrong. At 14,024 units in February, the popular SUV notched its second-best monthly sales performance after the 15,000 units in January 2020. Since its launch on August 22, 2019, through to end-February 2020, the Seltos has sold a total of 74,250 units comprising 35,902 diesel and 38,348 petrol, making for a 48:52 split. Considering the SUV is selling an average of 483 units every day, the 75,000-unit sales landmark would have been breached in the first two days of March.
In its seven-month innings, the Seltos has been India’s No. 1 UV for four months – February 2020, January 2020, October and November 2019. What a sterling performance!
On January 1, Kia hiked Seltos prices by up to Rs 35,000; the 18-variant model is now priced between Rs 9.89-17.34 lakh. The petrol variants cost between Rs 9.89-14.09 lakh and see an increase of Rs 20,000 for the base HTE variant and Rs 30,000 for the trims above. The more powerful turbo-petrol variant is priced at Rs 13.79-17.29 lakh, dearer by Rs 30,000. The diesel Seltos receives the highest mark-up of Rs 35,000, now bearing a sticker price of Rs 10.34-17.34 lakh. But that’s hardly a deterrent to buyers, who are making a beeline for the Seltos every which way.
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga surprises with 11,782 units, its best in 11 months
Maruti's MPV is a surprise package, what with a strong 11,782 units – easily its best performance in FY2020, by a fair margin. The previous month best in the April-February 2020 period was 9,218 units in June. The first 11 months of FY2020 have seen the Ertiga sell a total of 86,574 units, comprising 39,731 diesel variants and 46,843 petrol variants, which makes for a 46:54 split.
In the year-ago period, the Ertiga had sold a total of 56,308 units, which means the MPV has recorded a 53 percent year-on-year growth; remarkable, considering the current market and consumer sentiment.
The Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, which was voted the 2019 Autocar Car of the Year, is an extremely, comfortable, versatile and user-friendly family car. With Maruti moving out of diesel in April, the company will be keen to see the petrol-powered Ertiga make gains in the marketplace. It looks to be doing that. Only nine diesel Ertigas were sold last month.
Hyundai Venue takes third place
At No. 3 is Hyundai's first-ever compact SUV, the Venue, with 10,321 units, substantially more than its 6,733-unit sales in January. In the April 2019-February 2020 period, the Venue has sold a total of 87,497 units, comprising 32,516 diesel variants and 54,981 petrol units. This makes for a 37:63 diesel-petrol model split, and also indicates where the market is headed, even in the SUV world.
Maruti Vitara Brezza gets petrol power
Once the unchallenged No. 1 on this list, the lack of a petrol engine, and the entry of the Hyundai Venue and Kia Seltos, have removed the wind from the Maruti Vitara Brezza’s sails. It didn’t help that the carmaker had confirmed its exit from diesel vehicles some time ago, which also dampened sales numbers. But the Brezza has now got petrol power and was launched last month. February 2020 sales totalled 6,866 units, with 6,848 of them being petrol, and only 18 being diesel.
Suzuki’s K15B 1.5-litre petrol engine takes the place of the original Vitara Brezza’s 1.3-litre diesel, as part of Maruti’s larger plan to withdraw diesels from its line-up by April 1, 2020.
Recently, the Maruti Vitara Brezza drove past the half-a-million (5,00,000) units sales milestone in the domestic market, a story broken by our sister publication, Autocar Professional. Cumulative sales of the game-changing SUV, launched on March 8, 2016, now total 5,18,807 units till end-January 2020; 47 months since the model’s launch.
Toyota Innova Crysta sells 5,459 units
Rounding up the Top 5 UV list is the Toyota Innova with 5,459 units (5,383 diesel/ 76 petrol) in February 2020, down 21.52 percent, year-on-year. Sales are down in the April 2019-February 2020 period too: 49,876 units (48,980 diesel / 896 petrol), down 30 percent, YoY. However, these past 11 months have seen overall industry sales decline amid these turbulent times.
In February, Toyota Kirloskar Motor said that 9,00,000 units of the Innova have been retailed since the first-gen model launched, back in 2005 – its sales have regularly contributed to over 40 percent of the segment’s total sales. In February 2020, the Innova Crysta logged one of its highest segment shares since prices for the second-gen model were revealed in 2016 – Toyota’s MPV accounts for 52.91 percent of total segment sales.
At the beginning of this year, Toyota India introduced the BS6-compliant Innova Crysta, which saw the 2.7-litre petrol engine and 2.4-litre diesel engine upgraded to meet the new norms. This also meant that the 2.8-litre diesel was discontinued from the MPV’s line-up. Due to the update, Innova prices also increased by about Rs 11,000-12,000, depending on the variant. Shortly after, the brand introduced a limited-run Toyota Innova Crysta Leadership Edition, priced at Rs 21.21 lakh.
The five bestselling UVs in February 2020, at 48,452 units, account for 58 percent of total UV sales last month (83,351) and 4 percent more than they did in January 2020 (54 percent). Proof enough that SUVs are a force to contend with, in good times as well as bad.