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India Full Year 1998: Podium 100% Maruti, Hyundai Santro and Honda City instant blockbusters

The Hyundai Santro is the best-selling foreign nameplate in 1998 after just 4 months in market.

* See the Top 17 All-brands and Top 40 All-models by clicking on the title *

The Indian new vehicle market endures a 9.5% year-on-year drop in 1998 to 530.342 units. However brand leader Maruti once again outperforms its home market with a slim 3% drop to reach a new all-time high share at 59.2%. Mahindra (-9%) matches the market to remain at 12.5% and slide above Tata (-26%) for the 2nd place overall by just 127 sales. It’s a debacle for the rest of the Indian contingent: Premier (-71%), Force Motors (-42%) and Hindustan (-24%) all sink. All-in-all, Indian manufacturers ex-Maruti drop 24% to 32.5% share vs. 38.8% last year. It’s a similar situation for the first wave of foreign carmakers that had entered the Indian market a few years back: except Daewoo (-0.2%), first foreigner to break into the annual Top 5, and Fiat (+89%) now inside the Top 10, Peugeot (-89%), Opel (-67%) and Ford (-57%) all fall as fast as they had risen.

Honda tries a low-cost approach for India with the City, produced locally.

A second wave has arrived though: the event of 1998 in India is the spectacular debut of both Hyundai and Honda, lodging very similar scores and landing directly at #7 and #8 brand respectively with both 1.6% share. A very promising start for both carmakers that have invested in local production, especially when you take into account they both rely on one single nameplate: the Hyundai Santro shooting up straight to #9 model and best-selling foreigner – even though it only launched in September – and the Honda City landing at #10, both dislodging the long-term #1 foreigner, the Daewoo Cielo (-25%) while the Fiat Uno (+89%) is up 7 spots on last year to #12. Finally Mitsubishi arrives at #14 and places the Lancer at #27 while the Daewoo Matiz appears at #24. All-in-all, foreign carmakers gain 22% to 8.3% share vs. 6.1% a year ago despite the steep declines of half of them.

Once again in the middle of this storm the Maruti 800 (-9%) remains relatively unscathed, even improving its market share slightly to a mammoth 31.6%. The Maruti Zen (+5%) continues to climb, reaching a best-ever 2nd place while the Maruti Omnivan (+12%) returns on the podium for the first time since 1994. This way, Maruti monopolises the Indian podium for the first time in history, pushing the Mahindra Jeep (-11%) down two ranks to #4. The Tata 407/608/609 (-18%) is back above its stablemate the Sumo (-42%) while the Hindustan Ambassador manages to remain at #7.

Previous year: India 1997: Maruti up to record 55.1% share, 800 and Zen on podium

Full Year 1998 Top 17 All-brands and Top 40 All-models below.

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