The Alto has crossed the 35-lakh-unit cumulative sales mark, according to Maruti Suzuki India. The entry-level hatchback has achieved the sales milestone in its 18th year of production. Notably, the Alto has also been India's best-selling car consecutively for the past 14 years and is also the country’s best-selling car of all time.
Commenting on the landmark, R S Kalsi, senior executive director (Marketing & Sales), Maruti Suzuki India, said, “Brand Alto continues to remain fresh, relevant and as exciting as it was in 2000. Since 2006, every two years, the Alto is adding 5,00,000 new customers. In 2008, we clocked 10 lakh units. In 2010, it touched 15 lakh units and today, in 2018, we have crossed 35 lakh cumulative sales.”
“Maruti Suzuki has systematically upgraded the Alto to meet the ever-evolving customer aspirations and strengthen the Alto brand. In 2017-18, nearly 55 percent of customers selected Alto as their first car purchase. Also, 25 percent of Alto buyers are buying it as an additional car,” Kalsi added.
The Alto has clocked a growth rate of 6 percent in 2017-18 (April 2017-February 2018) and a market share of 33 percent in its segment. Between April 2017 to December 2017, the car had sold a total of 1,96,342 units.
Maruti Suzuki says nearly 44 percent of Alto sales come from buyers less than 35 years old. This contribution has grown by 4 percent in the past three years.
The Alto hatchback comes with two engine options – 800cc and K10 – along with a CNG variant. The K10’s Auto Gear Shift (AGS) transmission version accounts for 18 percent of its sales.
The Alto’s ascension
Interestingly, the Alto wasn’t quite the sales king in its initial years. The Maruti 800 ruled the roost at the time and even cars like the Hyundai Santro, Tata Indica and the erstwhile Maruti Zen outsold the Alto by a considerable margin. However, 2003-04 was when the Alto picked up momentum and recorded a year-on-year sales growth of 135 percent. The next year, helped by a price reduction and focused marketing programme, the Alto went on to displace the 800 as India’s best-selling car, a position it has held since.
Studying the Alto’s history reveals a major reason for its success and that’s how Maruti’s been on the ball to read customer requirements. The focus on fuel economy has always found favour with buyers looking for a cheap runabout, but over the years, the introduction of newer variants has also contributed to its continued demand. The CNG version, the more powerful 1.0-litre K10 engine-powered model, AMT gearbox option and even the option of a driver’s side airbag have kept the Alto relevant over the years.
The Alto’s sales peaked in 2010-11, with 3,46,840 units going home to new buyers. However, sales did dip the following year and stabilised around the 2,60,000-unit mark for the next four years. And though 2016-17 saw a sales drop to 2,41,635 units, it was still enough to keep the Alto at the top of the sales charts. While the Renault Kwid did impact Alto sales to some extent at launch in 2015, it’s Maruti's own Dzire and Swift that have actually cut the Alto's lead at the sales charts.
What will be interesting to see is how Maruti caters to the price-sensitive end of the Indian car market when new safety and emission standards come into effect in the years to come. As things stand, the Alto looks set to continue being India's best-selling car for a long time to come.