3 Best-selling cars in India that have destroyed the competition...

Success in the automotive industry doesn’t come easy. That’s all the more truer these days with cut-throat competition being the norm and customer loyalty almost non-existent. But, there are some exceptions that have not just swung the success barrier wide open but have also completely decimated their opponents while doing so.

Here are three such examples in the Indian passenger car industry. 

All three are in the midst of an incredibly successful spell right now. What’s incredible, you wonder? Well, each of these three models sell more than all their competitors combined, month after month, year after year! This, despite their rivals trying every trick in the trade to usurp them. If that isn’t incredible, what else is?

Maruti-Suzuki Swift Dzire

The first in the list is the car that’s been in the news these past few days. It’s the Maruti-Suzuki Dzire we’re referring to, the third generation of which was launched last week. Tata might have pioneered the segment with the Indigo CS but it was the arrival of the Swift Dzire (the first and second-generation Dzires carried the ‘Swift’ prefix) and the stupendous success it achieved that really gave compact sedans a fillip. Honda, Hyundai, Tata (again, with an all-new model), Ford and Volkswagen would follow but the level of success and popularity the Swift Dzire enjoyed remained exclusive to Maruti-Suzuki. 

The Amaze had a more powerful diesel engine and Honda’s strong brand pull to boot. The Xcent had better rear seat space and comfort in addition to Hyundai’s trusted sales and service network. The Zest was supremely spacious and offered incredible value for money. The Figo Aspire came with a stonker of a diesel engine and came kitted with safety features unheard of in the segment. The Ameo had everything we love in a German automobile. 

The result? Not one of these cars could snatch a share of the pie the Swift Dzire enjoys all to itself. Instead, the segment grew accommodating all these new entrants and saving their makers from further embarrassment.

Let’s look at the numbers. Out of the 344,474 compact sedans sold in 2016, a whopping 202,076 were Swift Dzires. That’s a staggering 59% of the segment’s share. The remaining 41% was what the Amaze, Xcent, Zest, Figo Aspire and Ameo fought for with the Honda and Hyundai faring better than the rest. 

With the new Dzire ironing out all the shortcomings of its predecessors, the future looks bleak for every other competitor. It would take extraordinary circumstances for any other compact sedan to challenge the new Dzire.

Maruti-Suzuki Alto

Next up is yet another Maruti-Suzuki, this time the car that carries the tag of “India’s largest-selling car” with aplomb. Yes, the Alto it is! Unlike the Swift Dzire, Alto’s rise to the top wasn’t easy. In fact, the Alto just did not take off when it was first launched in 2001. Maruti-Suzuki had to resort to price cuts and discounts to keep the cars moving off the showrooms before the changeover to Euro-III norms meant the 800 died a premature death in the metros. The baton was thus forcefully handed over to the Alto and, since then, the diminutive hatchback has ruled the roost at the top, fending off competition above and below.

From the cheaper Tata Nano to the relatively expensive Hyundai Eon, both of which debuted with much hype and hoopla, competition in the A-segment has always been tough. In fact, both the Nano and the Eon were labelled Alto-killers at launch. With due respect to those two cars, neither of them could even come close to threatening Alto’s position for various reasons. Renault’s recent foray in this segment with the Kwid has met with a stellar response though, proving the Alto isn’t invincible after all. But then, Kwid’s sales are still just about half of Alto’s every month. Datsun tried it’s luck too but sales are only a fraction of what Maruti-Suzuki’s best-seller manages every month.

Maruti-Suzuki is said to be pursuing SUV-like design cues (like the Kwid) and feature-rich interiors for the next-generation Alto. If that becomes a reality, expect all hell to break loose in the A-segment!

A grand total of 451,010 entry-level hatchbacks were sold in India in 2016 out of which the Alto accounted for 245,094 units. That’s an incredible 54% of the segment in Maruti-Suzuki’s pocket. Though nowhere close to the Alto, Kwid and Eon have fared reasonably well too. The same can’t be said of the Nano and the Datsun twins - Go and redi-Go.

Toyota Fortuner

The next on the list isn’t a Maruti-Suzuki. It isn’t a Hyundai, Mahindra, Honda or Tata either, the second, third, fourth and fifth-largest car-manufacturers in India last year. It’s the Toyota Fortuner, the premium SUV that has smashed sales records for any car priced above INR 20 Lakhs in India. To give you a perspective, Toyota consistently sells 1500 to 2000 Fortuners every month. With an average asking price close to INR 30 Lakhs, that’s a cool INR 6,000 Crores in revenue for Toyota India in 30 days, massive by any standards.

For a country that’s obsessed with high-riding Utility Vehicles, it’s surprising no other global car-maker apart from Toyota got it right until recently. The two biggies, Maruti-Suzuki and Hyundai, otherwise known for plugging gaps in their lineups with amazing regularity, were hardly present in the SUV space until the Creta and the Vitara Brezza came along in the last two years. Even Ford, known for its big and brawny SUVs and pickups, hardly gave Toyota a fight until the new Endeavour started threatening Fortuner’s supremacy last year. But, things were back to square one when Toyota unleashed the all-new Fortuner in response.

From the monocoque CR-V and Santa Fe, both of which are globally successful models, to the body-on-frame Pajero Sport, a hardcore SUV with a rich legacy to boot, competitors have come in all types and forms. All they managed to do is sink without a trace. Such is Toyota’s brand pull and reliability that many potential premium SUV buyers aren’t even willing to walk into other brand’s showrooms, let alone look at their offerings and take a test drive. The current Ford Endeavour, an arguably better product than the Fortuner in most aspects, sells one third of the latter and that’s on a good month. That says a lot about the sheer dominance of Toyota in this segment.

Strong brand recognition, bold and muscular styling, high ground clearance, ability to outlive their owners, legendary reliability, incredible resale value and low cost of maintenance - the Toyota Fortuner ticked every box in the list and some more. In its latest form, add feature-loaded interiors to the repertoire and you know why the Fortuner will continue to be a best-seller.

Of the 18,242 premium SUVs Indians bought in 2016, 9,524 were Fortuners. That’s a 52% share of the lucrative premium SUV segment that’s known for fat profit margins. This is despite Toyota running out of vehicles for a few weeks when the model change was happening in November, a period that coincided with Endeavour hitting an all-time high on the back of the launch of the new-generation model.

Yes, Ford has finally managed to end Toyota’s monopoly in the segment but is it enough to put Toyota under pressure? Nope, not at current levels at least. Fortuner’s reign at the top looks all set to continue!

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