Like the Seltos last year, the Kia Sonet is an instant blockbuster in India.
The combination of released lockdown pent-up demand, a handful of very successful new launches, a weak year-ago comparison base and dealerships stocking up for festivities (Dusshere/Diwali) mean Indian wholesales score a spectacular year-on-year gain for the 2nd month in a row in September at +31.4% to 292.883 units, after soaring +19.6% in August. Although this coincides with an accelerated retail sales momentum, local analysts warn for caution as the year end is approaching and unsold inventory can be costly. The year-to-date tally now stands at 1.531.779 units (-28.9%) and the strong August and September results have prompted us to up our 2020 Indian forecast from 2.08 million wholesales (-30%) two months ago to 2.36 million (-20%) now, which would however still be the lowest annual result since 2009.
The Hyundai Creta breaks its all-time monthly volume record in September…
Strikingly, 3 of the Top 4 brands outpace an already galloping market: Maruti is up 33.9% to 50.5% share, in line with its YTD level, Hyundai (+25%) can’t quite match the surrounding euphoria and edges down to 17.2% share vs. 17.7% so far this year, but Tata (+141.7%) to 7.2% share and Kia (+147.2%) to a record 6.4% of the market both multiply their September 2019 volumes by 2.5. At 18.676 wholesales, this is Kia’s largest ever monthly volume in India, eclipsing the 15.644 hit last February and bringing its overall tally since the brand launched here back in August 2019 to just under 132.000 units including 86.644 in 2020. The rest of the market, or 11 additional local manufacturers, all underperform, with Nissan (-80.3%), Datsun (-36.6%), Toyota (-20.5%) and Volkswagen (-19.6%) hit the hardest.
…as does the Tata Xenon…
Over in the models ranking, the Maruti Swift (+75.1%) repeats at #1 above the Maruti Baleno (+70.2%), Alto (+21%) and Wagon R (+49.5%). The Swift is now just 3.218 units below the Alto in the YTD race, with the Baleno taking the third spot and the Wagon R at #4, all nameplates selling over 95.000 units over the first 8 months of the year. The DZire (-10.7%) enables Maruti to monopolise the Top 5 but is in difficulty, just as the Hyundai Creta (+85.6%) continues to get boosted by the new generation and breaks the nameplate’s volume record at 12.325 and the Maruti Ertiga (+58.8%) scores its largest volume since last February just under the 10.000 mark.
…but also the Tata Altroz.
But the big event this month is the thunderous arrival of a second Kia crossover, the Sonet, for now exclusive to India and based on the Hyundai Venue. It lands directly #11 with a superb 9.277 wholesales, instantly becoming the brand’s best-seller above the Seltos (9.079). Given the Seltos can be considered as one of the most successful model launches in the entire Indian automotive history, this is a fantastic start for the Sonet which immediately ranks #2 SUV in the country below just the Hyundai Creta and, most importantly, top of its compact SUV segment just above the Maruti Vitara Brezza (9.153) and its twin the Hyundai Venue (8.469). Notice also the Tata Nexon (6.007) and Altroz (5.952) both breaking their all-time volume record in September, the Nexon really taking advantage of its USP as India’s safest car.
Full September 2020 Top 15 All-brands and Top 90 All-models below.