Maruti Suzuki Alto has emerged as the best-selling car in India for the 13th consecutive year. In the 2016-17 fiscal, more than 2.41 lakh Altos were sold, which was close to 17% of Maruti Suzuki’s total domestic sales at 14.43 lakh volumes in the previous fiscal.
With that figure, the average monthly sales of Alto would be around 20,000 over the past fiscal.
To put things into perspective, Mahindra & Mahindra sold 25,352 cars across its portfolio in March while 18,634 Honda cars were sold last month, despite the launch of new models like Honda City and WR-V.
So technically, Alto alone had more market share than Honda Cars India Ltd and Tata Motors (15,433 units in March 2017) in the Indian market.
Apart from the 2.41 lakh sales last financial year, over 21,000 units of Alto were also exported to markets such as Sri Lanka, Chile, Philippines, and Uruguay.
First introduced in 2000, Alto has led the Maruti’s sales table since the phase-out of Maruti 800, the car which not only “put India on wheels” but also made Maruti Suzuki the country’s biggest automaker, removing Hindustan Motors from the top spot. Since then, the company has refreshed Alto several times to bring variants such as Alto Spin, Alto K-10, Alto 800, Next Gen Alto K-10 with Auto-Gear Shift, and a couple of facelifts, last of which came in May 2016.
The car, despite multiple price-revisions and technological upgrades over the past 16 years, starts at Rs 2.66 lakh in a Delhi showroom. Thanks to its constantly updated design, high-fuel efficiency and Maruti Suzuki’s vast sales network, Alto has been popular among first-time car-buyers looking to upgrade from a two-wheeler to a family four-wheeler.
“Maruti Suzuki’s unmatched nationwide service network, guaranteed performance and lower maintenance cost, Alto is a natural choice of the customers across India,” RS Kalsi, executive director marketing and sales at Maruti Suzuki, said in a statement.
MS Alto sales were hit recently when French carmaker Renault in 2015 introduced KWID, an SUV-styled entry-segment car priced under Rs 3 lakh. The segment also sees competition from Datsun’s GO series, Hyundai Eon and the Tata Tiago. The 2008-launched Tata Nano, touted as “the cheapest car” in the world and a direct threat to the Alto, failed to knock any bricks from the Alto’s wall.
However, Alto’s sales in recent months have been in the red. While factors such as demonetisation and newer options in the market could be blamed instantly for the fall, the automaker gave another reason.
“There is enough demand. We’re facing capacity issues at our facilities, where we are not able to meet the market demand. We’re optimising our facilities to increase our output supply and with the new plant in Gujarat adding in, the supply will surely go up,” said CV Raman, the engineering head with Maruti Suzuki.
When asked if the 2000-born Alto badge is old enough to be phased out now, Raman said, “Alto is a badge which has been doing very well over the years. It is a very well-accepted product in terms of performance and durability; customers are satisfied, in fact over satisfied with it. So there’s no question of that (phasing out). We keep refreshing it and will continue to sell it since there’s a heavy demand.”