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Hyundai i20 reclaims top spot from Maruti Baleno

India’s second largest car maker Hyundai said its i20 has reclaimed the top spot in the premium hatchback segment in January dislodging Maruti Suzuki’s Baleno.

The Elite i20 clocked volumes of 8,250 units in January as against 7,698 units seen by the Baleno during the same month, said sources.

Hyundai adjusted production of the i20 last month to satisfy domestic demand, which it had to sacrifice in December to some extent. An additional 1,354 units of the i20 Active were also sold last month. Since its launch in August 2014 the Elite i20, priced at Rs 5.60 lakh (entry model) became the largest selling premium hatchback with average monthly volumes closing at 9,200 units. It has a market share of 58 per cent in the premium hatchback segment where cars are typically priced at Rs 5.5 lakh and above.

Baleno, the all-new premium car branded under Suzuki, displaced the i20 in December with sales of 10,572 units as compared to 10,379 units sold by the Elite i20.  A senior Hyundai official stated to Business Standard that the reason behind i20’s slower performance in December was because of production getting diverted to exports. Further, the torrential rain in Chennai forced a three to four days shutdown of plant operations, thereby affecting supplies.  

Baleno, whose collective booking surged to 70,000 units since launch in October as per company executives, is priced lower than the i20 at Rs 5.34 lakh for the entry version.

The Baleno is not sold through the standard Maruti Suzuki dealerships but is sold through a separate brand of premium outlet called Nexa.

Within a year Suzuki set up 100 Nexa outlets and says it is on course to install a further 150 outlets by end of next financial year. Hyundai presently has dealership strength of 435.

Other models in this segment include Fiat Punto Evo, Volkswagen Polo, Nissan Micra, Renault Pulse and Honda Jazz. With the exception of Jazz and Polo all the other models have failed to excite the market.

Car makers have also created a new segment of crossovers just above the premium hatchback segment. Here models which compete for consumer attention are Hyundai i20 Active, Fiat Avventura, Suzuki S-Cross, Toyota Etios Cross and Volkswagen Cross Polo.