Auto cos change gear for a bigger Indian pie

Written by Ronojoy Banerjee | Ronojoy Banerjee | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 21 2010, 06:54am hrs
Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor and Tata Motors are occupying the top three slots in Indias passenger car segment in terms of sales. But the fight among General Motors, Ford and Honda Siel for the next three ranks has become intense. Interestingly, no clear pecking order has emerged so far for the fourth, fifth and sixth slots with the ranking changing on monthly basis.

Sales figures for the March-May period show that while GM ended up being at the fourth position in March and April with sales of 9,464 units and 8,904 units, respectively, it lost out to Ford and slipped to the fifth position in May with a total sales of 6,712 units.

Ford, on the other hand, seems to be running high on adrenaline after the successful launch of its small car Figo in March. Picture this: in February Ford could only sell 2,875 units, miles behind both GM (9,449) and Honda (6,146). Post the launch of Figo, the company is raking in impressive numbers and ended last month overtaking GM as the fourth largest carmaker with sales of 7,820 units. In March and April, Ford sold 9,063 units and 7,226 units, respectively.

Honda Siel is, however, far behind in the race so far. In March and April, the company sold 5,862 units and 3,507 units and last month, the company could manage to sell only a little over 4,000 units.

This is mainly because its small car, Honda Jazz, could do little to jazz up the sales as the pricing of it is seen on the higher side. Last month, Jazz was the least-selling car. It sold only 205 units. Despite the odds, analysts feel the company could pose a challenge to GM and Ford, especially with the company gearing up to launch its first small car in India next year, which is expected to be more competitively-priced.

Honda now wants to increase its volumes, which they have not been able to do so far. Jazz failed with its decision to launch a small car, the company has hopefully learnt how price-sensitive Indian customers are and they will not make the same mistake again, auto analyst with Mumbai-based SSKI Securities S Ramnath said.

An independent car analyst, who did not wish to be quoted, said that other passenger car manufacturers like Renault-Nissan and Volkswagen could also see their numbers soaring and spoil the party for GM and Ford. Since Volkswagen launched Polo, the company has found a strong footing in the domestic car market... Even Micra's response has been very good. In the coming year, there is going to be a lot of competition among these newer car makers for the next three positions, he added.

With over 70% of the Indian passenger car market dominated by small cars, India has been home to several small car launches in the last one year. Apart from Ford, GM and Volkswagen's small cars, other global auto makers like Toyota and Nissan are also going to enter the Indian car market.