Top Selling Car Brands in 2016 - India

Contrary to popular predictions, the Indian market experienced a flat year in 2016 as a host of factors wreaked havoc in the fortunes of the automotive industry. Remember the odd-even rule that greeted New Delhi residents as they stepped into the New Year last time around? Or the ban on diesel vehicles with engines above 2000 cc in the National Capital Region (NCR)? Or, most recently, the demonetization that came out of the blue last November? Well, all these meant new car sales in India hardly grew in 2016, closing the year with just over 2.9 million unit sales.

Much to our dismay and quite unlike the United States of America where there is a healthy split of market share amongst the competing brands, the Indian market has been utterly dominated by Maruti-Suzuki for decades now. Was 2016 any different? Was it a walk in the park as usual for the leaders or did any ‘up and coming’ brand managed to disrupt the best-sellers on their home turf? The answer is yes and yes. Read on, to find how.

Excluding luxury brands and some mainstream brands like Force Motors whose sales figures aren’t declared regularly, there are 15 brands vying for attention in India. Here’s how the top ten list looked like in 2016. 

Top 10 Car Brands in 2016 - India

The Top 3 Brands 

There are no surprises at the top. Maruti-Suzuki remains the undisputed king of the Indian car market. In fact, the Indo-Japanese brand recorded a whopping 52% market share for the month of November, their highest ever. While the traditional best-sellers like the Alto, Swift Dzire, Swift and Wagon-R continued to make merry, what really boosted Maruti-Suzuki was their recent launches, the Baleno and Vitara Brezza. Both these models have been runaway hits and the manufacturing plants can't churn out enough. With the all-new Ignis and replacements for the Swift and Dzire twins waiting in the wings, the popular ‘S’ is all set to massacre the competition this year. Talking of which, rivals seem to have accepted the fact that they are playing for a share in just 50% of the Indian market. Take a bow, Maruti-Suzuki!

Traditional runner-up Hyundai ended 2016 in the same position it ended 2015. And 2014. And 2013. You get the point, right? Hyundai is stuck in a no man’s land. With Maruti-Suzuki untouchable ahead of them, Mahindra and the rest of the chasing pack are far behind to mount any sort of threat. With no high-volume new launches last year, it was the Grand i10, i20 and Creta that kept the Korean car-maker going. The Elantra and the Tucson are both off to a good start in the premium segment and Hyundai's domestic sales crossed 500,000 units for the first time ever, a remarkable feat. While all that is good, who will tell Hyundai that they need Kia's assistance now for that next phase of growth? 

Mahindra came next, retaining their third position in 2016. That's remarkable, given the fact that their lineup predominantly consists of diesel-only Utility Vehicles that bore the brunt of the diesel ban. If you factor in the demand slump due to demonetization in the rural parts of the country, a traditional Mahindra stronghold, it was a double whammy for the Indian manufacturer. While they managed to grow sales despite all of that, a cause of concern for Mahindra would be the way their new launches have been received. The NuvoSport sank without a trace while the response to the TUV3OO and KUV1OO can at best be termed average. 

The Rest of the Top Ten

Honda too has retained its fourth position in 2016 but we can't help but notice the steep fall in sales vis-a-vis 2015, a massive 23%. Maruti-Suzuki's Ciaz has dethroned the City while the Amaze and BR-V have fell short of expectations. The less said about the Brio and the Mobilio, the better. Honda's lineup needs a revamp. Tata jumped Toyota to finish 2016 in the top five. After a string of flops, the Tiago's success should be a welcome relief for Tata. Crucially, things are looking brighter than ever with impressive new launches lined up in the form of Hexa, Nexon and the yet-to-be-named Tiago-based compact sedan.

They might have ended 2016 outside the top five but the phenomenal success of the Innova Crysta and the new Fortuner proves Toyota's brand pull is second to none. Renault is the star of the top ten list with a staggering 147% growth over 2015. The Kwid has proved that the Alto can be challenged after all! Despite competent products in its kitty, Ford had a modest run last year with the success of the Endeavour and the iconic Mustang being their bright spots. Volkswagen and Datsun rounded off the top ten with the Ameo and the redi-Go respectively saving them both from an embarrassing year. Interestingly, Datsun is now ahead of its parent Nissan in sales!

Luxury Car Brands

In the luxury scheme of things, Mercedes-Benz continued to rule the roost ahead of fellow German rivals, Audi and BMW. With a spate of launches across segments and a striking new design language, the three pointed star has endeared itself to the luxury car buyers in India. With the new E-Class slated for launch shortly, Audi and BMW have no chance to dethrone Mercedes-Benz in 2017, we think.

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