The country’s largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, has for the first time in more than 25 years registered a slip in its marketshare to below 50 per cent in sales for the first six months of this year.
Maruti’s share in the passenger car market today stands at 47 per cent, a drop of over 6 percentage points in the last one year.
While the reasons for this decline are many, it may mean the beginning of a challenging period for the carmaker that is famed for selling every second car in the country.
In the last six months, new entrants like Tata Nano, Ford Figo and Chevrolet Beat have expanded the car market, reducing Maruti’s size in the pie even as it continued to post robust growth. Though companies often lose marketshare on a monthly basis due to their maintenance schedules, this is the lowest-ever marketshare for the company in a six-month period.
“The small car segment is expanding very fast and it is not surprising if one player loses some marketshare for the other,” said Abdul Majeed, auto practice leader, Pricewater-houseCoopers. “Going forward, with so many new entrants coming in, it will be very difficult for any player to retain such a high marketshare.”
Though the Tata Nano has not taken the market by storm, its impact is already visible. Largely on the back of the world’s cheapest car, Tata Motors saw its marketshare go up to 14.8 per cent. American car majors Ford and GM have also benefited from the success of their small cars and are now emerging as serious competitors in the domestic car market.
“The market continues to show robust demand and MSIL has shown consistently improved sales performance month after month,” a Maruti spokesperson said. “Almost all our models have a waiting period at the dealerships and our sales are constrained by capacity issues. We are rationalising and de-bottlenecking at our plants to manufacture more cars.
“We have recently announced capacity expansion by 2.5 lakh units which will be in place by 2012,” the spokesperson added.
Though Maruti has always maintained that it will not enter the Nano segment, retaining a marketshare of 50 per cent has been a prime target. Suzuki Chairman Osamu Suzuki has said in the past that he would like Maruti to command half of the car market in India forever.
With Nissan and Toyota also looking to increase their foothold by introducing their small cars — Micra and Etios — in the near future, the task is even more challenging.