India's "Top 10" Best-Selling Car Brands in 2017

As we saw a few days back, the best-selling car brands in the United States of America for the year 2017 didn't throw too many surprises. The Top 10 brands were the same as 2016 with the only change being Kia losing a position to Subaru. The scenario was very similar in India too with the Top 10 best-selling brands in 2017 being exactly the same as the year before.

While the passenger car segment on the whole saw a remarkable 9% growth over 2016, not all car-makers enjoyed an upswing in sales. That's not surprising. Here's why. The car market in India might be a shade under 3.2 million units but the sad reality is less than half of that is up for grabs for anybody that isn't Maruti-Suzuki. Hyundai walks away with a third of this slashed pie, leaving very little space for the rest of the brands to clobber up.

The Top 10 Brands 

'Red hot' Maruti-Suzuki scales new heights

2017 was yet another fantastic year for Maruti-Suzuki, India's largest car-maker by a country mile.

Highlight of the year was the dream debut of the all-new third-generation Dzire. Did you ever imagine a car priced between INR 6-9 Lakhs selling more than 30,000 units a month in India? Yeah, the new Dzire did just that, not once but twice becoming the fastest car in India to reach the milestone of 100,000 units.

Maruti-Suzuki's regular best-sellers - Alto and Wagon-R - continued their phenomenal run while the Swift, despite being in the last year of its life cycle, did a commendable job of sustaining sales against much-newer rivals. 

Capacity constraints that hampered Baleno and Vitara Brezza in 2016 became a thing of the past with Suzuki opening their new plant in Gujarat. The result? Both models posted double-digit growth vis-a-vis 2016 and surged to the top of their respective segments. 

Celerio, Omni, Eeco, Ertiga and Ciaz chipped in with significant contributions as well. As a result, Maruti-Suzuki grew its sales by 15% over 2016. Considering their incredible base, that's just astonishing!  

That said, there are a couple of 'dare-we-say' weak links in the chain. The Ignis, launched with much fanfare last year, has gotten off to what can best be termed a modest start while the S-Cross has failed to click despite a substantial facelift towards the end of 2017.

The future is looking brighter than ever for Maruti-Suzuki. In the short term, the new Swift is all set to storm the market after its debut at the upcoming 2018 Auto Expo while the Alto and Wagon-R are all set for overhauls next year. On the long term, the car-maker has tied up with Toyota to bring in electric cars in India. Clearly, the folks at Maruti-Suzuki think smarter, act quicker and work better than their rivals. The success, then, is well-deserved!

Hyundai defends its turf 

Hyundai finishes runner-up as usual, defending its turf as strongly as ever with a 5% growth over the prior year. Problem is, Maruti-Suzuki is so far ahead while Mahindra is a fair bit behind, leaving Hyundai in no man's land. 

The brand's three best-sellers - Grand i10, i20 and Creta - continued their strong run in the market while the new Verna is off to a great start. Unfortunately for the South Korean car-maker, their foray into the premium segments have not yielded results as expected. Yes, the Elantra and the Tucson post respectable numbers month-on-month considering the segments they operate in but more was expected of them. 

With the competition getting tougher and their best-selling trio getting older, the challenge for Hyundai going forward would be to sustain market share at the current level. Did you whisper 'Chuck the Eon, get back a contemporary tall-boy and name it Santro?' That was loud and clear. Are you listening, Hyundai?   

Mahindra falls, but clings on to third

Mahindra has done well to hold on to third in 2017 but the Nashik-based brand is in a vulnerable position. 

Amongst the front-runners, Mahindra is the only brand that has not grown sales over 2016. As if that's not enough, Honda and Tata, the two brands right behind Mahindra in sales, have posted strong gains. A hit or two from one of them in the coming years could easily push Mahindra behind.

While the Bolero, Scorpio and XUV5OO are doing great thanks to timely facelifts and feature additions, the newer models, sadly, have not done well for Mahindra. The boxy TUV3OO, the quirky KUV1OO and the forgettable NuvoSport have failed to capture the imagination of the masses. The lesser said about Mahindra's car line-up, the better!

Tata shines among the rest

Right behind Mahindra is Honda with a solid 6% increase in sales over 2016. The City is as dependable as ever while the WR-V has managed to do what the BR-V, Jazz, Mobilio and Brio couldn't. 

Up next is Tata, putting on what's arguably the most impressive show of all the brands in the Top 10 list. The Tiago is going all guns blazing, the Nexon has started strongly and the Hexa is doing reasonably well considering its Aria origins. Of course, the beautiful Tigor has been a rare disappointment but then every other car in the segment apart from the Dzire sell in similar numbers.

Toyota comes next, seemingly content selling Innova Crystas and Fortuners in India that yield fat profits. They have done well at that.

Seventh on the list is Renault whose 'Kwid' magic seems to be losing sheen as evident by the 15% drop in sales. They need another hit quickly to prevent falling off further. 

Ford comes in next with a mixed bag. The EcoSport and the Endeavour are doing remarkably well, no doubt, but the Figo siblings continue their dismal run. There's a facelift coming but will that be enough?

At number nine is Volkswagen. The German brand is in dire need of newer cars. Period. There's only so much the 8-year old Polo and the 7-year old Vento can do! 

Rounding off the list is Datsun, albeit with flat sales compared to 2016. The redi-Go has done its job and the onus now shifts to the upcoming Go Cross to deliver.

Mercedes-Benz tops the luxury segment

With the after-effects of demonetization still lurking, 2017 started off on a bad note for the luxury segment. While the implementation of GST provided a temporary relief, the Government did all it could by revising the tax slabs of luxury cars soon afterwards. Car-makers were peeved, no doubt, but the well-heeled car-buying public hardly cared. 

Mercedes-Benz took full advantage of the situation and raced to the top of the segment selling over 15,000 cars in 2017, their highest ever in the country. BMW came next with sales a little shy of 10,000 units. Audi, that was leading the luxury race not long ago, is languishing in third position with annual sales of 7,876 units. Outside the top three, Jaguar-Land Rover, Volvo and Porsche grew significantly in 2017 indicating a healthy market for these expensive machinery.


  1. Wooho Tata has overtaken Toyota! When will Tata overtake Honda?

    1. Tata is going great but so is Honda. The City is as strong as ever and the WR-V is selling well. So, if the Nexon makes it big, there's a chance for Tata.

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