The battle for the leadership position in the mid-size sedan segment has intensified with Maruti’s new launch Ciaz trumping segment leader Honda City in its first full month of sales in October.
Sales of the Ciaz stood at 6,345 units while City that has been a runaway success since its relaunch in January found 5,125 customers in October.
Erstwhile market leader Hyundai Verna’s tally of around 3,000 units has put it in the third position.
Maruti said it was hopeful of keeping its leadership position and avoid the fate that befell its earlier mid-size car SX4. Though, SX4 got off to a great start, its sales fizzled out after three months.
“We are off to a good start....The festive season has been good for Ciaz. We have bookings of over 17,000 right now,” said RS Kalsi, executive officer marketing and sales, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. “In the first few months, the demand can be deceptive as there is always a novelty factor with a new car. But we want to retain the segment leadership and sales should stabilise at over 5,000 units per month.”
However, chances of a backlash from Honda are high. Traditionally Indian consumers have rejected big cars from companies such as Maruti and Hyundai, which have hugely-popular small cars.
Thus, this can be in favour of Honda and Toyota that are viewed as more aspirational brands. The trend changed somewhat with the Verna three-years ago but the new City continues to be in great demand even after 10 months of launch. It has a waiting period of around two-three months and its sales tally of over 60,000 units this year — already more than what Verna managed in the entire year in 2013.
“We have started second shift at the Tapukara plant that will eventually double our capacity from 5,000 to 10,000 units. It will help us reduce the waiting period of the City, which currently stands at around two-and-half to three months,” said Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice-president, Honda Cars India Ltd. “We have a marketshare of 49% in the segment and our aim is to retain that position. We have not seen any impact of new launches on demand for the City yet.”
With a refreshed version of the Verna expected to hit the roads in January, competition in the mid-size segment is set to get more intense in the coming months.