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India March 2020: COVID-19 lockdown sinks market -51.1% to lowest March in 14 years, Maruti Baleno secures 2nd ever win

Holi festival in Chennai on March 10.

A nationwide 21-day lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic was announced on March 23 by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Limiting movement of the entire 1.3 billion population simultaneously, it is the largest quarantine measure in human history. School and business closures started in Delhi as early as March 8, with curfews and partial lockdowns announced in various states throughout the month. As a result the Indian new car market was disrupted for more than just the last week when vehicle dispatches & end consumer retail sales stopped. As of March 31 all automotive factories in India have stopped production. An added headache for dealers: the Supreme Court announced on March 27 only 10% of the unsold BS4 vehicles are allowed to be sold, within 10 days of the end of the lockdown on April 14. This as the country was getting ready to step up to BS6 anti-pollution norms.

Kia secures a 2nd consecutive month as the #3 brand in India.

In this context, new light vehicle wholesales in India plummet -51.1% year-on-year in March to just 142.134 units, the weakest single monthly tally since June 2009 (140.243) and the lowest March volume since 2006 (142.623). Year-to-date wholesales are now down -21.7% to 659.530, the worst Q1 result in a decade, since the 561.415 units sold in Q1 2010. Brand leader Maruti (-47.4%) holds better than the market and improves its share to 53.6%, its highest since November 2018 (54%). Hyundai (-40.7%) is also relatively solid and soars to 18.5% share, its highest since last August (19.3%). Kia manages to hold onto a record third spot for the 2nd straight month, totalling 85.171 units in 8 months in market, but sees its share thaw slightly to 6%. Toyota (-45.2%) gains two spots to February to #4, with Nissan (-31.2%) the only other mass brand to outpace the market. In contrast, Volkswagen (-95.2%), Datsun (-92.1%), Jeep (-88.7%), Mahindra (-87%), Honda (-78.5%), Tata (-68.1%) and Skoda (-67.8%) are annihilated.

The Maruti Baleno is the best-selling vehicle in India in March.

Model-wise, the Maruti Baleno (-33.9%) is up 3 spots on February to score its second ever win after last December, toppling the Maruti Alto (-35.6%), Wagon R (-43.3%) and Swift (-39.7%). The Kia Seltos remains at a record 5th place and holds onto the SUV crown above the Hyundai Creta (-41.4%) back up 36 ranks on last month to #6 and the new Hyundai Venue up to an all-time high #7 also hit last July, August and December. Maruti closes out the Top 10 with the Eeco (-39.7%), Vitara Brezza (-61.1%) and DZire (-72.5%). The Maruti S-Presso is knocked out of the Top 10 at #11, the Hyundai Xcent (+45.9%) is the only gainer in the Top 40, the Maruti XL6 returns inside the Top 20 for the first time since last October (#20) and the newly launched Renault Triber (#26), Toyota Glanza (#27), MG Hector (#29), Tata Altroz (#30) and Kia Carnival (#32) all fit within the Top 35.

Previous month: India February 2020: Kia secures first brands podium after just 7 months in market, overall volumes down -7.2%

One year ago: India March 2019: Honda (+26.7%), Mahindra (+8%) impress in 7th market drop in past 9 months (-2.4%)

Full March 2020 Top 23 All-brands and Top 83 models below.

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