India’s best-selling car for the last nine years, Maruti Suzuki Alto, has emerged as the largest-selling small car in the world in 2014 beating the likes of Volkswagen Golf in Germany and Daihatsu Tanto, Toyota Aqua and Honda Fit in Japan.
Alto registered overall sales of 264,544 units in India last year that put it ahead of Golf’s sales of 255,044 units in Germany, Tanto’s 234,456 units, Aqua’s 233,209 units and Fit’s 202,838 units in Japan.
The list this year does not have any entry from Brazil, the world’s largest small car market, as its best selling car for 25 years — Volkswagen Gol — suffered a near 30% fall in sales and was upstaged by long-time rival Fiat Palio in South America’s biggest car market. Individually, none of the cars in Brazil crossed the 200,000 unit mark in 2014.
Alto has emerged on top of this list in three of the last four years but its sales have declined every year for the last four years. In 2014, it was well below its peak sales of over 300,000 units in 2011.
A major overhaul in its lower grade Alto 800 in 2012 has under performed, but a recycled K10 variant that has a bigger 1-litre engine late last year, and the addition of an automatic transmission during the same time may see it coming back on the growth path in 2015.
The strong performance of the Daihatsu Tanto (kei car) during the year in Japan was attributed to higher taxes for regular cars whereas kei cars were spared any increase in tax.
Kei cars is a category of cars in Japan that are powered by 660cc petrol engines and are not more than 3.4 metres in length, 1.48 metres in width and 2 metres in height.
Last year, seven of the top 10 bestselling cars in Japan were kei cars.