Seventeen days prior to its launch, the new Swift from the Maruti Suzuki fold has record bookings, with the company registering 38,000 pre-launch orders for the car.
This is the first time any vehicle has generated such enthusiasm among consumers prior to its official introduction in the market. Mayank Pareek, managing executive officer (marketing & sales), Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), said, “The strong response is unprecedented, particularly because the new model has not hit the showrooms yet and the pricing points have not been determined.”
Earlier last December, the Toyota Etios had registered around 12,000 bookings before the company started making the product. But at the time, the car had already been unveiled in the country and pricing details had been revealed.
The new third-generation Swift, scheduled to be launched on August 17, is longer and roomier, with distinctively styled interiors. The car sports a plastic fuel tank which, being lighter will enhance fuel efficiency by an added five to six per cent. The company had 33,000 bookings for the Swift when production of the model was discontinued at the end of June. MSIL will start rolling out the new Swift from tomorrow at its Manesar plant.
In the early 1990s, Srivastava said, MSIL had recorded 187,000 bookings for the Zen within a month of launch. “The production capacity then was not comparable. We used allotment cards to sell cars to buyers. Deliveries were made over three to four years.”
The Swift, a benchmark product in the premium hatchback category, was introduced in the Indian market in 2005. The car created the premium hatchback market, a category which has since seen rapid growth, fuelling the interest of global auto majors in the segment. Ford launched the Figo in the category in March last year and Volkswagen followed with the Polo. Toyota’s made-for-India small car, the Liva, made its global debut here on June 27. There is also the upcoming Honda Brio in the same segment.
The category is one of the fastest growing, clocking growth of 20 per cent (January-June 2011) in an otherwise sluggish industry. As many as 439,000 units were sold in the segment last year.
According to industry estimates, Swift had 24 per cent share of the premium hatchback market between January and May, while the Hyundai i20 and Ford Figo accounted for 15 per cent each. Ritz contributed to 12 per cent of sales.
Currently, MSIL ,with a half a dozen models ranging from the best-selling Alto car to the WagonR, Swift and Estilo, accounts for 57 per cent of the small car market in India. In the premium hatchback segment, the company’s market share in 2010-11 was 48 per cent. MSIL is expecting the share in the segment to go up to 53 per cent once the new Swift is launched.