The two-horse race between Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai in the passenger vehicle market has seen Maruti ceding some ground to its Korean rival. Till recently, Maruti sold a little more than one in every two cars. The two companies account for more than 68 per cent share in a market comprising 20 players, including latecomers such as MG Motor India and Kia Motors India.
Amid one of the worst and most prolonged car sales slowdowns, Hyundai’s share in the competitive passenger vehicle market increased to 18.36 per cent in the first five months of the current financial year, up from 15.6 per cent in the same period a year ago. This market share gain, the highest in five years, was led by the Venue, the compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) Hyundai launched on May 21.
Maruti’s market share dropped to a three-year low at 49.83 per cent in April-August 2019, owing to its top-selling compact SUV Brezza losing out to the Venue. “The Venue has added to the volumes in a big way,” said Vikas Jain, national sales head at Hyundai Motor India. Since its launch, the company has delivered over 30,000 units of the Venue and has bookings of over 90,000 units, said Jain. Hyundai has been ramping up production to curtail the waiting list.
With prices ranging between Rs 6.5 lakh and Rs 11.10 lakh (ex-showroom), the Venue competes with the Brezza, the Mahindra XUV300, and the Tata Nexon, among others. The SUV has helped Hyundai become the market leader in the SUV segment, displacing Mahindra & Mahindra in the last three months.
“We are No. 1 in SUVs since June. It has helped us corner a share of more than 19 per cent in the passenger vehicle market, both in July and August — the highest in the company’s history,” said Jain.
He added that the new Grand i10 Nios — the third-generation i10 — launched a week ago had also had an impressive start, with bookings of over 9,000 units. This is expected to further consolidate Hyundai’s position and increase its market share.
Shashank Srivastava, executive director, sales and marketing, Maruti, conceded the Brezza had been hit by the newer entrants. “Our problem is in the small SUV segment, where there have been quite a few launches by other players and, being new models, there is bound to be some impact,” said Srivastava.
According to him, Maruti’s market share loss has been primarily in the SUV and multi-purpose vehicle segments, while it has gained market share in the passenger car segment. Maruti has also gained in the sedan segment, where it sells the Ciaz.
Srivastava is hopeful that the recent launch of the XL6, a crossover based on the Ertiga platform, will help Maruti recoup the loss. “We have to see how to get back that market share. We are trying to rectify that,” he said, pointing to the positive response to the XL6, with bookings of close to 250 to 300 units per day.
Puneet Gupta, associate director at IHS Markit, a sales forecasting and market research firm, points out that, at a time when the market has been moving away from diesel, Maruti’s delay in bringing out the petrol variant of the Brezza led to a loss in market share. Compare this, said Gupta, with Hyundai proactively giving buyers a choice of both petrol and diesel. Even the Tata Nexon has had a petrol variant from the beginning.
“While both Maruti and Hyundai have been launching new models to keep up the sales momentum in a dull market, Hyundai has gained because of an aggressive powertrain strategy,” said Gupta. Maruti plans to launch the petrol variant of the Brezza later this financial year.