Genesis GV80 spotted testing in Dubai ahead of global unveiling this week

Genesis, Hyundai's luxury arm, has been struggling to make headway in the luxury automotive space globally. With just a trio of sedans at a time when customers worldwide are moving big time to SUVs and crossovers, that's hardly surprising.

Genesis kicked off 2020 releasing 'revealing' teaser images of it's upcoming SUV, the GV80. Seen in concept form as early as 2017 at the New York International Auto Show, the GV80 has been a long time coming. With just a couple of days left for an official reveal, it appears Genesis isn't done with the testing schedules yet!

Wrapped with camouflage and fitted with testing equipment, this mule was caught speeding past us on the outskirts of Dubai. At those speeds, Genesis' first SUV looked stable and sure-footed. The unique 'Quad Lights' signature stood out too, which is essential in the image-conscious premium segment the GV80 would be competing in. Car-makers usually head to Dubai for hot-weather testing as well as to see how their All Wheel Drive systems cope up with the desert sand. Genesis might have been doing the same too.

The GV80 adopts Genesis' "Athletic Elegance" design language. A large 'Crest' grille dominates the fascia flanked by twin thin LED strips on either side. The muscular profile has a roof-line that tapers down ever-so-slightly and a window-line that rises sharply. The rear has matching twin LED taillights on both sides. Interiors appear suitably upmarket with a modern and minimalist design and textures. Expected to do duty under the hood are 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol and a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 petrol engines with the latter churning out 380 horses.

All set for official unveiling on 16th January, the GV80 can't come soon enough. For all the critical acclaim that came it's way, the G70, together with the older G80 and G90, can only take Genesis so far. The GV80, though, gives Genesis a genuine chance of putting up a fight to the established luxury brands.


India's "Top 20" Best-selling Cars in 2019

Our previous post on India's best-selling car brands in 2019 showed that a damp market did nothing to change the fact one in every two cars sold in the country is a Maruti-Suzuki. It's quite natural then the Japanese brand and it's models are going to dominate the list of best-selling cars in India. 

But the Top 20 list isn't just a Maruti-Suzuki show. Hyundai and a handful of models from other brands also had their say. Here is how the cars that shaped the Indian automotive landscape last year stack up.


  • The top six best-selling cars are from Maruti-Suzuki
  • Seven of the top ten and nine of the top twenty best-selling cars are from - you said it - Maruti-Suzuki
  • Hyundai is the only brand other than Maruti-Suzuki to have it's cars in the Top 10
  • The best-selling car that's not a Maruti-Suzuki or Hyundai is the Mahindra Bolero (#14)
  • Fourteen of the top twenty best-selling cars are either a Maruti-Suzuki or Hyundai
  • Tata is the only brand apart from the two leaders to have more than one model in the Top 20
  • Mahindra, Honda, Toyota and Renault have one model each in the Top 20

Alto is back as India's best-selling car

Despite being at the end of its life cycle and seeing a substantial 19% drop in sales, Alto's bullet-proof reliability and affordable price tag together with aggressive financing options were just what customers wanted in a weakening economy. The net result was this diminutive hatchback ending 2019 as India's best-selling car. With an all-new Alto sporting a high-riding Kwid-like design reportedly in the works, things are looking very good for the Alto.

Dzire, Swift and Baleno hold their ground

In the Dzire, Swift and Wagon-R, Maruti-Suzuki has three very strong brands that are selling by themselves. All the car-maker has to do is to produce and have the cars sent to dealerships ready for delivery when customers walk in. Joining this trio are Baleno and Vitara Brezza. The latter's sales run, despite the advent of competent newer compact SUVs like the Venue and XUV3OO, is mind-boggling. It just goes to show how strong the 'S' badge is in India. With the venerable Omni off the production lines, customers looking for a cheap people-mover had no choice other than the Eeco, which explains its 35% jump over 2018.

Venue rescues Hyundai

From the looks of it, Hyundai's perennial best-sellers - i20, Grand i10 and Creta - continued their good run in 2019 and made it to the Top 10. But, keen observers would have noted the trio starting to lose their sheen with 13%, 24% and 18% drops respectively and the Venue coming to Hyundai's rescue adding over 70,000 units to the Korean car-maker's tally since its launch middle of last year. Santro had a decent run but couldn't match up to Maruti-Suzuki's older Celerio, let alone the big-selling all-new Wagon-R. The Koreans won't be pleased!

Ertiga shines, Bolero continues to surprise

Maruti-Suzuki Ertiga, at number eleven, had a stellar 2019 with an incredible 65% increase in sales over 2018. The first-generation model was a success itself but, with the launch of the all-new Ertiga towards the end of 2018, India's largest car-maker hit the ball out of the park. The new Ertiga does almost everything an Innova Crysta does at half the price. If that isn't value, what is? No wonder then the new Ertiga is a smash hit.

Tea table discussions on India's auto industry often see people wondering why Mahindra is still bothering with the age-old Bolero. One look at the list is all that's needed to silence them. Bolero's tough build and strong brand pull in semi-urban and rural markets have helped Mahindra for years and 2019 was no different. But the Indian car-maker has lots to ponder over. None of it's newer models - including the impressive Marazzo and XUV3OO - are anywhere close to making it to the list.

Tata had a dismal year overall and that reflected in Tiago's sales that dropped a massive 32% year-over-year. Nexon held its own though amidst a flurry of compact SUVs storming the market! Honda's Amaze, Toyota's Innova Crysta and Renault's Kwid are the other cars to make it to the Top 20. 

2020 is going to be an interesting year with the upcoming Bharat Stage-6 emission norms and the resulting change in price tags and engine options promising to shake things up quite a bit.


India's "Top 10" Best-selling Car Brands in 2019

As we saw earlier this week, 2019 wasn't a bad year for the automotive industry in the United States of America. Here in India though, things weren't as hunky dory. A combination of new regulatory norms, liquidity crunch and deficit monsoon ensured customer sentiments across urban and rural India remained weak all through the year. Passenger vehicle sales suffered as a result, dropping to 2,936,839 units in 2019. That's a significant 12.3% drop over the 3,349,386 units sold in 2018

To put those numbers in perspective, 2019 saw the biggest drop in automobile sales in India in over two decades. It was also just the second time since the dawn of the new century new car sales in India failed to grow. Yes, ours was a market that grew even during the 2007-08 global economic recession, which says an awful lot about the current state of affairs!

Amidst the doom and gloom, let's take a look at 2019's Top 10 Car Brands in India.

Maruti-Suzuki's dream run continues

There is some magic hidden in the 'S' badge that words quite can't describe. What else would explain the fact that, despite every other major car-maker stepping up their presence in segments currently dominated by them, 1 in every 2 new cars sold is still a Maruti-Suzuki? Even the softening market conditions could not help Hyundai, Mahindra and the rest of the chasing pack to gain big on the leader. That said, even the King couldn't buck the trend and ended up losing over 14% in sales and 1% in market share vis-a-vis 2018.

Almost every model in Maruti-Suzuki's line-up - Alto, S-Presso, Wagon-R, Swift, Baleno, Dzire, Ciaz, Vitara Brezza, Eeco - ended the year as segment best-sellers or were close to being the best. Even the so-called duds like the Ignis and S-Cross sell more than what most brands sell collectively. 

To add to it's competitors' woes, Maruti-Suzuki has now started selling the same cars with different badges through different channels. The Ertiga got a nose job and became the XL6 to be sold via Nexa while the Baleno swapped logos with Toyota to morph in to Glanza. The partnership with Toyota - a global leader in hybrids - in particular has all but ensured Maruti-Suzuki is here to rule the market. The competition should be worried!

Hyundai and Mahindra gain on shaky ground

Maruti-Suzuki's loss was Hyundai's gain with the Korean car-maker gaining a percentage point in market share. However, the bosses in Seoul won't be too happy with how things panned out in 2019. Perennial best-sellers Grand i10, i20 and Creta couldn't maintain their record 2018 sales figures while the new Santro failed to live up to their internal expectations. Helping Hyundai big-time was the newly-launched Venue, the demand for which stemmed the drop at 7%. But, the Korean camp had some good news too and that's coming in the form of Kia.

Interestingly, Mahindra's issues were very similar to Hyundai's. Market share went up slightly but the Indian brand sold 5% fewer cars in 2019 compared to 2018. Keeping the cash registers ringing were the old workhorses - Bolero, Scorpio and XUV5OO. Despite a strong start, both the Marazzo and XUV3OO have started seeing significant month-on-month decline in sales already. Something has to be done. Quickly. And the folks at Mahindra know it. Are the upcoming new Scorpio and XUV5OO the solution? May be. Let's wait and watch.

With the three leading brands controlling a whopping 75% of the market, a dozen or so brands are left to fight it out for the remaining one-fourths. 

Renault enjoys a stellar year

Edging ahead of its rivals, Tata finished 2019 as the fourth-largest car-maker in the country. Coming on the back of an excellent 2018, the 28% drop would have been a rude shock for the Pune-based brand though. Even the much-hyped, newly-launched Harrier couldn't help with only the Nexon and Tiago bringing in decent numbers. Honda and Toyota are paying the price for not having proper crossovers in their lineup at a time when customers are moving away from sedans and hatchbacks. Still, the Amaze helped Honda's cause while the big T's bills were paid by the high-priced Innova Crysta and Fortuner.

That gets us to Renault, one of the two bright spots in the industry at the moment! The French brand has always been a cut above the rest when it comes to identifying niches in the market. They did that with the Duster and Kwid in the past and have repeated the act with the Triber. Indians duly rewarded with their wallets. With no direct rival in sight, Renault should be able to ride the Triber wave for some time. 

There was no such good news for Ford that's still hinging on the EcoSport for survival. The Endeavour is doing great though and shows 'Brand Ford' isn't as weak as one might think!

Kia was the other bright spot in the Top 10 list. The Korean brand's launch in India has been incredibly successful with the Seltos decimating its rivals including the erstwhile best-seller Creta. From setting up the factory in record time to launching the Seltos in a multitude of variants to suit every buyer and price point to planning and executing the ramp up to perfection, Kia's Indian launch deserves to be a case study in itself. Expect the brand to move up the ladder in 2020 and beyond!

With the decade old Polo and Vento, Volkswagen should be happy that it found a place in the Top 10.

Outside the list, MG had a good start to their Indian innings with the Hector and the future does look promising for the Chinese-owned British brand. Skoda is another brand to watch out for.

Mercedes-Benz leads BMW in the luxury race

At the premium end of the market, the sentiments were pretty similar. Mercedes-Benz is still India's favourite luxury car brand with 13,786 units sold in 2019. That's a 10% drop compared to the record 2018 sales but enough to steer well clear of BMW that reported sales of 9,000 units. E-Class, the first model launched by Mercedes-Benz in India, turned out to be the brand's best-seller with the C-Class, CLA and GLC also contributing well. The trio of SUVs - X1,X3 and X5 - led BMW's charge.

There's lots in store for 2020 starting with the implementation of Bharat Stage-6 emission norms from April. Let's have our fingers crossed!


America's "Top 20" Best-selling Cars in 2019

Now that we know Ford, Toyota and Chevrolet dominated the sales charts last year in the United States of America, let’s delve deeper to find out the models that helped these brands and the rest of the gang reach there. So, here they come, America’s ‘Top 20’ best-selling cars of 2019. 

Ford F-Series reigns supreme

Now, this is getting tough. What do we write about Ford’s all-conquering F-Series that we haven’t written over the past several years? Except for the fact that 2019 was the 38th year in a row this behemoth topped the sales charts in the United States. And 2019 was also the 43rd year on the trot this money-spinner from Ford ended up as America’s best-selling pick-up truck. Incredibly, the current F-Series is on the last legs of its life cycle and achieved this feat in a year that saw it’s two crosstown rivals come out in all-new avatars - refreshed and brimming with vigor.

We can’t wait to see what Ford has in store for the next-generation F-Series that’s slated to debut sometime next year with hybrid and electric variants joining the parade. 

Ram Pick-Up leapfrogs Chevrolet Silverado

Despite the Silverado being an all-new model, Chevrolet couldn’t do what Ford did and lost its second position to the similarly-new Ram Pick-Up. The new Silverado range ended 2019 with a 2% drop over the prior year. Surely, the controversial grille treatment didn’t help with the underwhelming interiors not helping matters. The all-new Ram scored big on both these aspects and, with a 48-volt mild hybrid system standard across the line-up, could boast of ‘green’ credentials too! Truck-loving Americans, unsurprisingly, lapped them up as quickly as FCA could manufacture them.

Japanese crossovers are the new Japanese sedans

Not long ago, the three pick-up trucks would have sedans from Toyota, Honda and Nissan behind them in the sales charts. The bad news is that’s been changing over the last few years, thanks to the shift in customer preferences towards SUVs and crossovers. The good news is those positions are still occupied by Toyota, Honda and Nissan with the RAV4, CR-V and Rogue pushing their low-riding stablemates down the order. The RAV4, in particular, is going strong while Nissan has a task at hand to ponder over the 15% decline in Rogue’s sales. 

Joining the Japanese trio in the crossover party is Chevrolet with the Equinox enjoying a good run with a 4% increase in sales vis-à-vis 2018. Toyota Camry, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla round off the Top 10 doing a great job of maintaining their sales figures in what was a tough year for sedans. The Accord, though, couldn’t do the same and ended the year with a 8% drop. 

The rest of the Top 20

With the Tacoma and Highlander enjoying a decent run, Toyota had five of its models in the Top 20 list - the highest for any car-maker. Ford, Honda and Jeep had three entries each while Chevrolet and Nissan had a pair of them each. Ram and GMC are the two other brands to have a model featuring in the Top 20.

Jeep slips, Ford falls

Just last year, it appeared Jeep could do no wrong. But, 2019 proved to be a mixed bag for FCA's flagship brand. The bigger and more profitable Grand Cherokee put up a solid show but, with the Wrangler and Cherokee in the red at a time when SUVs are hot properties, Jeep has to watch out. The Gladiator, though, has received rave reviews and enjoyed a solid start! 

Bigger headaches are in store for Ford with both the Escape and Explorer reporting significant declines. Crucially, both these crossovers had their next-generation models debuting in 2019 with some teething issues restricting production and supplies. 2020 would be a litmus test for these two as well as the recently-launched Ranger and upcoming Bronco.

GMC Sierra, Silverado’s posh cousin, did well compared to the Chevy and grew 6% over the previous year. Boosted by fleet sales, Nissan’s Altima sold as much as it did in 2018 and made it to the list doing so.

Will 2020 throw in more surprises? Will this year see the formidable Camry, Corolla, Civic and Accord dropping off further in favour of other crossovers? Can Subaru, Hyundai and Kia break in to the Top 20? There are too many questions that 2020 promises to answer. Let’s wait and watch!


America's "Top 10" Best-selling Car Brands in 2019

With 2020 bringing with it not just a new year but also a new decade, there is lots to look forward to. On the same note, it is also time to retrospect the year that just went by and see how the car-makers fared. 

China might have stolen the limelight as the single largest market for automobiles but the money-minting potential offered by the United States of America - a country that loves its big and burly trucks and SUVs - can just not be overlooked. 

2019 was a good year as Americans bought a little over 17 million cars, a marginal 1.3% drop from the prior year. Low unemployment rate and easy financing have led to positive consumer sentiments, reports claim.

With over 30 brands competing for a share of the lucrative American market, here's the list of brands that made the Top 10.

Ford marks a decade of leadership

With over 2.31 million cars sold in 2019, it's a decade of standing atop the podium for Ford Motor Company. If you're after year-over-year stats, the Blue Oval saw a 3.5% drop over 2018. As always, more than a third of Ford's sales are from the F-Series alone with the truck notching up 896,526 units through the year. Believe it or not, that's now 38 years in a row the F-Series has ended up as America's best-selling vehicle and 43 years on the trot as the country's best-selling pick-up.

Transit grew sales and ended the year as America's best-selling van with the full-size Expedition and the pint-sized EcoSport also pitching in with handsome gains over the prior year. Mustang led the muscle-car race for the fifth straight year, finishing 2019 as America's most-popular sports car.

These bright spots aside, Ford lost volumes on the big-selling Escape and Explorer with launch issues while the entire car portfolio comprising of the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and Taurus are either off the showrooms or are on the way out.

Toyota and Chevrolet round off the podium spots

The status quo remains unchanged as far as the podium spots are concerned with Toyota finishing runner-up with close to 2.1 million customers opting for it. The newly-refreshed RAV4 was a star and the Japanese brand's best-seller but the Camry and Corolla went one step ahead and did well in a market that's unforgiving for anything that's not a SUV or crossover.

Chevrolet is hot on Toyota's heels selling 1.96 million vehicles through the year. GM's best-selling brand had a good year with the Equinox, Traverse, Trax and Tahoe having a good run on the sales charts. Like Ford though, cars wearing the bow-tie are being sent to the gutters one after the other with the Malibu, Cruze, Impala and Sonic suffering from the decision. 

Ram had a stellar year while Subaru, Hyundai and Kia gain

Honda, Nissan and Jeep finished fourth, fifth and sixth on the sales charts like they did in 2018. While Honda improved its figures marginally over the prior year, Nissan and Jeep posted declines with the Japanese brand ending up as the biggest loser in the Top 10. Jeep's loss is a bit of a surprise as the market is moving big-time towards SUVs and high-riding vehicles that the American brand is synonymous with. The Renegade, Compass and Cherokee lost big chunks that the Grand Cherokee and the all-new Gladiator couldn't make-up.

The real star of 2019 though was Ram with the all-new Pick-Up range proving to be a smash hit amongst the truck-loving Americans. This was the FCA brand's best performance since being spun off as a standalone brand towards the end of the last decade and quite deservedly so. The new Ram range looks stylish and the interiors are miles ahead of what the competiton offers at the moment. 

Rounding off the Top 10 are Subaru, Hyundai and Kia with each of the three brands posting gains over 2018. While the Outback and Forester led to Subaru's best-ever showing in America, the Korean brands were boosted by their all-new three-row SUV twins, the Palisade and Telluride.

BMW trumps Mercedes-Benz & Lexus in the luxury race

Moving onto the premium echelons of the automotive ecosystem, BMW led the standings selling 324,826 cars and SUVs in 2019. The X3 and X5 were big contributors to that number with the 3-Series also chipping in handsomely. Hot on BMW's heels was Mercedes-Benz (316,094) with the GLC emerging the top-seller. Lexus (298,114) finished the year in third position not that far off the leading Germans.