Buyers return to petrol cars in slow festive season

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SummaryThe popularity of low-priced petrol car models that were launched this festive season has brought petrol cars back on the Indian buyers' shopping list after over a year.

Alto 800 leads the petrol pack with over 43,000 bookings

The popularity of low-priced petrol car models that were launched this festive season has brought petrol cars back on the Indian buyers' shopping list after over a year. Another push toward petrol variants has come with a hike in diesel prices, and an anticipation of more such hikes in the future.

The biggest credit goes to the new version of the top-selling car in the market, Maruti Suzuki's Alto 800, which seems to have almost single-handedly raised the demand for petrol cars from a deep slump. Bookings since its launch on October 16 have crossed 43,000, apart from retail sales of 26,000 units.

“Apart from the Alto, the Wagon R is also being picked up by dealers more this time, indicating a growth in petrol car demand after the recent rise in diesel prices. Diesel cars are still popular, but we're possibly seeing a moderation or plateau in demand for them. A trend will be clearer by November-end,” a senior Maruti official told FE. With a 40% share (April to October, 2012) of the A2 minus segment, a dip or increase in Alto sales can move the market.

Second-largest domestic car maker Hyundai also said all its petrol models, including the Eon, i10 and Santro, seem to be back in vogue. “We are seeing a growth in volumes this festive season. The growth is led by diesel variants with a resurgence now visible in petrol variants too. We hope this trend will continue even after,” said Rakesh Srivastava, vice-president, marketing and sales.

Apart from Maruti and Mahindra, growth in October for most major car makers has been below expectations because of depressed consumer sentiments following high interest rates and rising fuel prices. Festive demand began with the Navratras on October 16 and is expected to continue till end-November.

With 2011 being a bad year for festive sales as well, this year's growth is probably best judged when compared to the good show of 2010. The usual norm is a 20-25% higher demand (for October-November) versus other months.

Maruti saw sales in October jump

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