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Three auto models defy gravity, buck the slowdown trend


Automobile makers across the board seem to be rationalising production plans and rolling out incentives to push sales of most of their vehicles. However, a handful of models have sustained demand and managed to beat the blues.

The Swift Dzire premium hatchback and utility vehicle Ertiga from the Maruti Suzuki stable, and the Mahindra XUV 500, have had a waiting list for months, in a market where most models are available off the shelf.

Says Shashank Srivastava, executive officer (international marketing), Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), “Average monthly sales of the Swift have gone up to 20,000 units per month from the earlier 12,000 units since the launch of the new version in August last year. Similarly, DZire sales have doubled to around 16,000 units. And, the Ertiga has around 48,000 bookings.”

Maruti Suzuki, which has recorded runaway success with the Ertiga, has already sold 17,700 units of the life-utility vehicle since its launch in mid-April this year. The dependence on these models for Maruti is reflected in the fact that their combined sales of around 120,000 units accounted for 46 per cent of all sales by the company in the first quarter of this financial year.

The demand is such that customers are willing to wait for up to three months to lay hands on a diesel variant of the Swift, while the waiting period for the DZire is around four months. Deliveries of the top-end variant of the Ertiga would stretch to the beginning of 2013.

Similarly, at Mahindra & Mahindra, robust demand for the XUV 500 sports utility vehicle in the domestic market has forced the company to reschedule export plans. It company has staggered the bookings for the vehicle, taken in three tranches since its launch in September 2011.

“We had initially planned to roll out 2,000 units of the XUV 500 per month but the demand has been so strong that we have been forced to double production capacity. We opened booking for the third time on June 8 and have already registered around 18,500,” says Pravin Shah, chief executive officer (automotive division).

Since its launch on September 29 last year, M&M has sold 22,200 units. The waiting period ranges from two to five months across the country. M&M’s share in the high-end SUV segment, tagged at around Rs 10-12 lakh each, increased to 57 per cent in the

April-June quarter from 41 per cent in the last financial year, Shah informs.

Experts also attribute the traction for these models in the premium hatchback and utility vehicle segments to the availability of diesel variants. The number of first-time buyers in the former category has increased to 46 per cent from 24 per cent in the last two years.


IN TOP GEAR Model Bookings Waiting period Segment growth 
In Apr-Jun ‘12 Model growth 
Apr-Jun ‘12 Maruti Suzuki Swift
(the new Swift was 
introduced in Aug ‘11) 45,000 Up to 3 months 44% 69% Maruti Suzuki DZire 
(the sub-4m DZire was
introduced in Feb ‘12) 48,000 About 
4 months 22% 87% Maruti Suzuki Ertiga 48,000 Up to 7 
months The multi-purpose 
vehicle segment, which 
includes Chevrolet Tavera,
Toyota Innova, Maruti Suzuki
Ertiga, Mahindra Bolero,
has grown by 90 per cent Launched in 
Apr ‘12 – so
no corresponding
growth rate
available Mahindra XUV 500 18,500 2-5 months 
depending on
the variant Has doubled on the back 
of XUV 500, which has sold
over 10,000 units Launched in Sept ‘11 
so no corresponding
growth rate available

During the same period, the compact car segment has contracted and the number of first-time buyers in this category has fallen to 55 per cent from 62 per cent, as cars such as the Alto, WagonR and i10 (once best-sellers) have only petrol variants. There are 65 diesel models on offer today, as compared to 19 in 2007.