This article has been updated with actuals for luxury brands.
2018 marks a new all-time record in India with wholesales up 4.9% to a new all-time high of 3.384.982 units, not including light commercials. However this gain is in fact disappointing in a market that some anticipate will take the relay of China as the world’s engine of growth. The year had started in a stellar way, with First Half volumes up a stunning 13.2% to 1.725.887 units – the kind of year-on-year gains we have come to expect of India – but a weakening Rupee, fuel prices and interest rates on the rise and a volatile stock market all combined to bring H2 wholesales down 2.8% to 1.654.477 with factory shipments down during 4 of the last 6 months of the year.
Suzuki’s local subsidiary, Maruti, is pushing the limits of possible in India with each new year that comes by, having managed to improve its share of the Indian market for the past 6 years. After holding 43.1% in 2013, 45.2% in 2014, 46.5% in 2015, 47.2% in 2016 and 49.7% in 2017, Maruti has crossed the symbolic 50% milestone in 2018 thanks to deliveries up 8% to 1.73 million, lifting its share to 51.1%. But as we learnt during our latest Historical Data update uncovering detailed sales data all the way to 1985, this is not the first time Maruti has accounted for over 1 in every 2 cars sold in the country: the brand peaked at 59.2% in 1998, at a time when foreign carmakers were a rarity. Yet Maruti broke its all-time volume record in April (163.434) when it also reached its highest share of recent times (55%), posting a total of 4 months above its 2017 highest of 52.6% in November: in April (55%), May (53.7%), July (52.8%) and November (54%).
The rest of the brands podium is a lot more muted: both Hyundai (+3.5%) and Mahindra (+2.4%) lose market share but Hyundai broke its monthly volume record in October at 52.001. The best performer of 2018 is without contest Tata (+26.3%), surfing on the success of the Nexon SUV to snap the 4th place overall off Honda (-2.2%). Ford (+11.7%) and Toyota (+8.4%) also outpace the market whereas Fiat (-72.5%), Nissan (-44.3%), Renault (-26.8%), Volkswagen (-22.5%) and Datsun (-15%) are all in dire straits. Jeep (+39.2%) ends its first full year in market just outside the Top 10, a very solid performance in a very price-sensitive market. Below Mercedes (+1.6%), BMW (+10.9%), Jaguar Land Rover (+16.2%), Volvo (+30%) and Mini (+66.3%) all impress among premium brands.
Over in the models ranking, we witness an extremely rare event this year: a change of guard. The Maruti DZire (+17.6%) soars to a record 265.000 sales, ending 13 consecutive years of reign by the Maruti Alto (-0.4%), #1 without interruption from 2005 to 2017, and this despite a strong rally by the Alto in December at 25.121 sales vs. 16.797 for the DZire. In fact, the DZire is only the third nameplate to hold the Indian pole position in the past 34 years: the only other one was the Maruti 800 from 1985 to 2004. The Maruti Swift (+33.6%) and Baleno (+20%) also post stellar gains and record volumes, with the Baleno crossing the 200.000 annual unit-mark for the first time and breaking its monthly volume record in April (20.412). The country’s best-selling SUV, the Maruti Vitara Brezza (+10.3%) breaks into the annual Indian Top 5 for the first time at #5, breaking its volume record twice this year: in May (15.629) and October (15.832). At #6, the Wagon R (-8.9%) makes it 6 Marutis in the Top 6, a new record for the carmaker.
The Hyundai Elite i20 (+5.2%) overtakes the Grand i10 (-13.2%) to become the Korean manufacturer’s best-seller in India at #7 overall, breaking its monthly volume record in February (13.378) and snapping its first ever podium finish in December (#3), beating a ranking record that dated back to August 2012 (#4). The Hyundai Creta (+14.6%) signs one of the largest year-on-year gains in the Top 10 but remains at #9, improving on its monthly best three times this year: in May (11.004), June (11.111) and October (11.702). With the Maruti Celerio at #10, the Indian Top 10 is exclusively composed of Maruti or Hyundai nameplates for the second year in a row and in history, and like last year all Top 10 models sell over 100.000 units. Just outside, the Tata Tiago (+29.8%) soars 5 spots to #11, breaking its volume record twice: in June (8.327) and August (9.227), while the Honda Amaze (+138.6%) is up 11 ranks to #16 thanks to a new generation, beating its volume best twice at 9.689 in May and 10.180 in July, becoming the first Honda to sell over 10.000 units in a single month in India and the first Honda to break into the monthly Top 10 (from June to August). The Tata Nexon (+273.5%) is one of the success stories of 2018, ending its first full year in market inside the Top 20 and above one of its fiercest competitors: the Ford Ecosport. Notice also the Hyundai Verna (+64.4%) pursed by a new model, the Maruti S-Cross (+56.1%) and Tata Tigor (+56.1%) all posting strong gains. The best-selling 2018 launch is the resuscitated Hyundai Santro (#32) managing just under 25.000 wholesales in just 3 months, the Ford Freestyle (#38), Mahindra Marazzo (#44) and Toyota Yaris (#47).
Two years ago: India 2016: The year Renault cracked the Indian market
Full Year 2018 Top 25 brands and Top 115 models vs. Full Year 2017 figures below.
Full December 2018 Top 22 brands and Top 85 models below.