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India July 2014: Is the Datsun Go a flop?

Datsun Go India July 2014. Picture courtesy of livemint.comOnly 800 Datsun Go found a buyer in July.

* See the Top 60 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

Great news coming from India: after two years of wobbliness, new car sales seem to finally be out of trouble: up a very satisfying 10% year-on-year in July to 194,042 registrations (temporary figures), lifting the year-to-date total back into positive at 1,453,321 units, up 0.5% on 2013. Last month I announced that if the Datsun Go, the most important launch of the year in India, fell below 1,000 monthly sales there would be reason to worry. Well this is exactly what just happened in July. After debuting at 2,068 units in March, gaining 30% to 2,690 in April, then dropping 26% in May and 45% in June, the Go is down a further 27% to a poor 800 units and out of the Top 40 in July, even falling below the notoriously unsuccessful Tata Nano (875 sales at #39). For more on the relevance of the Datsun Go in India check out Strategy: Understanding the Indian car market.

Datsun Go India July 2014. Picture courtesy of gaadi.comClouds are piling up for the Datsun Go in India…

On the Go’s shoulders rest Carlos Ghosn’s hope of creating a budget brand in India by resurrecting the Datsun logo. Although no sales objectives were communicated at launch, 800 units for its 6th month in market, while sales should be growing exponentially as punters get used to the new brand and word-of-mouth spreads, is surely not what Renault-Nissan had in mind for the Go in India. These figures are not end-consumer sales but factory sales to dealerships, however a declining trend indicates that dealers are not re-ordering any new cars and struggling to sell the ones they have as stock piles up. It is too early to be too formal about the Go’s success or lack-thereof, but sales do need to reverse back up fast or the Go will be remembered as another failed attempt at selling low-cost to Indian consumers after the Nano. And I don’t see how much traction one can get from just 800 monthly units. So my answer to “Is the Datsun Go a flop in India”?
So far, sadly yes.

Honda City India July 2014. Picture courtesy of indiaautosblog.comThe Honda City breaks into the monthly Indian Top 5 for the first time this month.

But wait there’s more action in the Indian models sales charts in July: the Maruti Swift DZire astonishingly takes the lead for only the third time ever after May 2013 and May 2014 thanks to 18,634 sales and 9.7% share, kicking the Maruti Alto down to 2nd place at 16,997 units and 8.8%. The Alto is still however #1 year-to-date by far at 155,145 sales vs. 124,407 for the Dzire. Another significant event inside the Top 5: the arrival of the Honda City for the very first time in the nameplate’s career in 5th place (previous best: #7 reached last March) with 7,697 sales and 4% and best-selling non-Maruti in the country this month. Notice also the Hyundai Xcent very solid again at #8, the Maruti Celerio back up 5 spots to #9 and the Honda Mobilio landing directly at #18 with 3,365 sales and 1.7% share for its very first month in market.

Previous month: India June 2014: Maruti Wagon R up to 2nd place

One year ago: India July 2013: Ford Ecosport breaks into Top 10

Full July 2014 Top 60 models Ranking Table below.

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