Small cars on overdrive with local, exports sales

Written by Yogima Seth | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 28 2009, 07:18am hrs
Compact car buyers have never been so spoilt for choice like now. With almost a new car being rolled out each month, eight new models have been added to the compact car segment in the past 10 months, taking the total of new models in the segment to 21. Fords Figo and General Motors mini-car, both set to hit the Indian roads shortly, would only add to the growing list.

Maruti A-Star, launched November last year, seems to have set the trail, as it was shortly followed by Hyundai i20, Maruti Ritz, Honda Jazz, Fiat Grande Punto, the Tata Nano and the all-new Estilo from Maruti in August.

Last week, Ford India unveiled its all new small car, the Figo, which would be launched in the first quarter of 2010 and GM India is already doing trial runs of its mini-car, which is scheduled for a launch towards the end of this year.

Hiroshi Nakagawa, managing director, Toyota Kirloskar Motors, said: With small cars driving the growth of Indian car industry, the company hopes to triple its sales in India in the next three years on the back of our upcoming small car for the domestic market. The company, he said, would launch its small car by the end of next year.

All this excitement is not without a reason. After all, the compact car segment is the largest selling segment in India, accounting for nearly 80% of the passenger cars sold. The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers data shows 96,774 units of small cars were sold in the local market in August, out of the 1,20,669 units sold for both local and export markets.

This is a growth of 34.1% vis-a-vis August last year when 72,186 units of compact cars were sold in India.

The small car segment is expected to double in next 10 years and our focus would be to ensure accelerated development of fuel efficient small cars that will help us develop India as the export hub for Ford globally, Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company, had said on his recent visit to India.

While the new offerings are selling like hot cakes in the domestic market, demand for some of these models in the overseas markets has also exceeded the earlier estimates for export.

Actual demand for small cars has gone up post-scrappage schemes announced in Europe and this has resulted in higher sales than earlier envisioned, RC Bhargava, chairman, Maruti Suzuki India, said, adding that the company is now looking at 1,20,000-1,30,000 units of export as against 70,000 in 2008-09.

According to Siam, export of compact cars jumped by 46.3% in August at 38,730 units, compared to 26,465 units in August last year. This is 94.7% of total cars exported out of India in August at 40,901 units.