Alto loses global top slot in small cars

Sumant Banerji, Hindustan Times
New Delhi
First Published: 21:22 IST(7/1/2013)
Last Updated: 19:06 IST(8/1/2013)
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Sluggish demand for cars and a phenomenal shift towards diesel vehicles saw the Maruti Alto fall off the pedestal as the largest selling small car in the world in 2012, to Volkswagen Gol in Brazil. The Alto had held that position for the last two years.

The decade-old model remained the largest selling car in India for the eighth consecutive year, but that was not enough for it to retain its position on top of the global sales charts.

The Alto’s sales dipped by 8% in 2012 to 286,833 units in India; VW’s Gol edged ahead with sales of 293,293 units in Brazil.

Gol has been the bestselling car in the South American nation, one of world’s largest small car markets, for 18 years running.

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Its arch rival Fiat Uno came in third with 255,838 unit sales in 2012.

“It has been a bad year for petrol cars and perhaps that is most visible in the case of Alto,” said a Maruti official.

“While diesel cars have grown by over 40%, petrol cars declined by 15% this year. Also, the new Alto 800 will only gain momentum next year, so there is every chance that it will be back on top.”

Incidentally, both the Gol and Alto received a refresh during the year,  the first in 12 years for the latter.

Since the model change in October, Alto’s sales have increased by nearly 20% year-on-year, but the mid-year dip when its sales slid to just over 10,000 units in August, seems to have done the damage.


Offered in two engine options — 800cc and 1 litre — the Alto was temporarily upstaged by the Swift in April as well when the latter became the largest selling car during the month.

It also had a subdued festive season and sales have not crossed the 30,000 unit mark in a month since March 2012.

It was being offered at a discount barely two months after the refreshed launch too.


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