Amid sinking auto sales, Maruti Suzuki keeps its head above water

Written by Roudra Bhattacharya | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 3 2014, 14:35pm hrs
MarutiMaruti Suzuki turned out to be the big winner in the passenger vehicle segment by registering an increase of around 300 basis point. Reuters
The results are out. Fiscal year 2014 saw the auto industry post a flat growth of around 3%. However, the countrys largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki turned out to be the big winner in the passenger vehicle segment by registering an increase of around 300 basis point in its market share at 42% (see table). While Maruti managed to swim against the tide, the countrys largest commercial vehicle manufacturer Tata Motors and second largest motorcycle maker Bajaj Auto were not so lucky.

While Tata Motors saw its market share in commercial vehicles falling by around 620 basis points (49.8% vs 56% a year earlier), Bajaj Autos market share in motorcycles slid by almost 400 basis points (20.3% vs 24.43%).

Bajaj Auto, which saw newer rivals like Honda, Mahindra Two Wheelers and Yamaha gain ground at its expense, is confident of regaining lost territory this fiscal, its managing director Rajiv Bajaj told a business news channel on Wednesday.

In a tough market, Maruti Suzuki managed to improve its market share on the back of strong demand for the Alto mini car, Swift premium hatch and Dzire sedan in the early part of the year. In the last quarter of the fiscal, Marutis volumes got a boost from the launch of the Celerio in February, which garnered 30,000 bookings in the first month itself.

The company was thus able to maintain a flat volume growth at 10.53 lakh units, even though the overall passenger vehicle market fell about 6% in FY14 to around 25 lakh units. Marutis market share gains thus also came from the market share erosion of rivals like Tata Motors and Mahindra.

Tata Motors sharply lost market share in commercial vehicles (CVs) as volumes fell 28% to 3.19 lakh units.

In the fiscal, overall CV segment sales fell around 20% to 6.4 lakh units as macroeconomic growth slowed and mining activities remained low, leading to overall fleet utilisation levels falling to a record low of 60%. The CV market has contracted for almost two years

(CV sales fell 2% to 7.93 lakh units in FY13).

Tatas loss in the CV segment was picked up by Mahindra and Eicher, while new entrant Bharat-Benz also made early gains, said analysts. Meanwhile, rivals like Ashok Leyland and AMW also recorded drops.

Interestingly, Tata Motors' CV market share had dropped to an all-time low of 47.8% for the first time in December 2013, on the back of a 46% dip in sales of its Ace light CV in the month. Tata has lost sharply in the four-wheeled light CV market which it largely created with the Ace family of vehicles. In this segment, which has a higher weightage in the CV market, Mahindra is doing well with new products and the Bolero pick-up, an analyst said.

Meanwhile, Bajaj's motorcycle sales in FY14 fell about 14% to 21 lakh units, even as the overall motorcycle market rose 4% to 104 lakh units during the fiscal.

Bajaj's market share losses were picked up largely by Honda, which saw motorcycle volumes grow 37%. Mahindra Two Wheelers also made a formidable entry in the segment, selling over 1.5 lakh units in FY14 compared with 4,007 units in FY13.

Rajiv Bajaj said that the company's motorcycle market share has slipped because of lower sales of its premium Pulsar range of bikes and that market share should return to 24% with the new Discover platform. With the launch last month of Discover 125, the momentum is getting stronger It will only build from here because last month we have again done close to 100,000 Discovers. So, I think we are on track right now. We should come back to 23-24% that we were typically at, which means with exports our market share will again be over 30% in motorcycle, he said.