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Record car sales mark 2010 for Indian auto sector

autos Updated: Dec 19, 2010 11:18 IST

Record sales made 2010 a special year for automakers in India, which also saw the iconic Maruti 800 take a bow from big cities, Hero split with Honda and demand for the promising Nano sputter following a string of accidents.

For a country whose economy has been expanding at near 9% rate, it was not surprising that automobile sales broke all records between July and October to average a growth of 30%.

Such was the appeal of the country and the appetite of the Indian motorist that Bugatti launched its Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport, which at Rs 16 crore became the costliest car in India, while other niche marques Aston Martin and Spyker Cars said they too would drive in soon.

The year will most definitely be remembered for the end of the 26 year partnership of Hero Honda, the world's largest two wheeler maker. BM Munjal promoted Hero Group decided to buy out Japanese Honda's 26% stake for an undisclosed sum, while inking a new licensing pact that will give it access to Honda's technology for few more years with royalty remaining at the same level as before.

The split was reminiscent of the break-up of a Renault-Mahindra & Mahindra joint venture to make sedan Logan in April, when the Indian firm bought out the 49% stake of the French auto major in Mahindra Renault Pvt Ltd.

If there was one event that had a tinge of nostalgia that was the phase out of India's first people's car Maruti 800, which bid adieu to 13 big cities due to strict emission norms (Bharat Stage IV) that kicked-in in April. Smaller cities upgraded to Bharat-III norms.

Another icon, the Ambassador, faced testing times when its maker Hindustan Motors approached the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction in May due to mounting losses.

As for the budget-friendly Nano, the most talked about car since its unveiling two years ago, its ride was not as easy as its rise to popularity. Incidents of brand new cars catching fire and dwindling sales made many pundits wonder if the Nano can live up to its promise of becoming the transport of choice of the masses.

While Tata Motors had to tell customers that it would provide safety measures free of cost to prevent incidents of fire, other major carmakers like Maruti Suzuki India and Honda Siel Cars India also recalled their popular models, 'A-Star' and 'City' respectively, to rectify manufacturing defects.

There was also a flurry of new launches, with the likes of Renault and Ford joining the bandwagon to cash in on the sales boom. The Indian automart is inching towards the two million units a year mark.

Some of the new models that hit the roads during the year includes Maruti Suzuki Eeco, Ford Figo, Volkswagen Polo and Vento and Nissan Micra.

Renault said it will launch five new models by 2013 and Ford upstaged it by announcing that it would launch eight new models in India by 2015 to cash in on the burgeoning market.

While global players were busy making inroads into India, homegrown major Mahindra & Mahindra stepped up its nternational expansion plans when it inched closer to acquire South Korean sports utility vehicle maker SsangYong Motor for about Rs 2,105 crore. Although, it had to prolong its planned US entry following legal battle with its erstwhile exclusive distributor Global Vehicles.