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Swift noses ahead of Alto, riding on diesel

After 87 months at the top, the smaller petrol car has been dislodged by its bigger diesel sibling. Sumant Banerji reports. Alto vs Swift | Vehicle sales see April dip

autos Updated: May 02, 2012 00:42 IST
Sumant Banerji
Sumant Banerji
Hindustan Times

For the first time in over seven years — 87 months to be exact — the Maruti Alto has ceded ground to stablemate Swift as the largest selling car in India.

The recent surge in demand for diesel cars saw the sales of Maruti’s premium hatchback Swift overtake that of the much cheaper and low frills Alto in April.

While sales of the Swift have gone from strength to strength every month since its launch in 2005, Alto has been stagnating over the last 12 months as petrol cars have fallen out of favour with consumers.

Last month, Alto saw its sales decline by almost 30% to 17,842 units compared to April 2011, while Swift saw sales soar by more than 83% to 19,484 units during the same period.

While the Alto does not have a diesel variant, three out of every four Swifts sold in the country run on diesel.

“Last year diesel vehicle sales grew by over 37% while there was a 14% decline in the sales of petrol cars,” said Mayank Pareek, managing executive officer (marketing and sales), Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.

“There is a huge pressure to sell petrol vehicles even with the high discounts,” he elaborated. “There is a tremendous shift towards diesel vehicles and we were caught flat-footed last year. This year we are increasing our diesel capacity by over 65%.”

With a price tag of over R4 lakh, the Swift costs almost twice as much as an entry level Alto. It still has a backlog of more than 1.30 lakh units, a waiting period stretching upto 10 months and no discounts on offer.

The rein of the Swift at the top of the pile, however, could be short-lived as lack of capacity and a de-regulation of diesel prices is likely to push Alto back to the podium.

“April was just a freak month and Alto will most certainly be back at the top,” felt IV Rao, managing executive officer (engineering), MSIL.

First Published: May 02, 2012 00:38 IST