Maruti races ahead to capture nearly half the market

While most carmakers are struggling to push sales, market leader Maruti Suzuki is racing ahead in the domestic segment, capturing a 14-year-high share in it.

Riding high on double-digit growth in sales, the company is set to close the year (2015-16) with a share of 47 per cent - compared to 45 per cent last year (2014-15).

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Its nearest competitor, Korean auto major Hyundai, too, will close the year at an all-time-high market share of 17.5 per cent. Last year, Hyundai's market share was 16.2 per cent.

Sales of the two companies, in volumes, are also at a record high.

Together, they now enjoy 64 per cent share of the market. Last year, it was 61 per cent.

All other carmakers together - about a dozen - have 36 per cent of the market, with none of them in double digits.

The third largest player in the market, Mahindra & Mahindra, has a share of 8.26 per cent.

While Maruti increased its share this year by two per cent, General Motors, Nissan and Volkswagen have a share of well below two per cent each. Market share is a function of how other players also perform.

Seven companies lost share in the current year because of different reasons. Toyota, Tata Motors, Volkswagen and General Motors figure in this list. New launches have not worked for everyone.

R S Kalsi, executive director (sales and marketing), Maruti Suzuki, said a combination of factors helped the company gain share.

"We have added close to 200 regular sales outlets and 125 Nexa (premium) outlets this year to reach the customers. While new launches such as Baleno and Brezza have been well accepted, the older models such as Alto and WagonR also grew," he said.

The company's dominance is evident from the fact that four of the top five highest selling car models are Maruti's.

The last time Maruti had a higher market share (48.6 per cent) was in 2000-2001 when there were fewer players and global companies such as Volkswagen, Nissan and Renault had not entered the Indian market.

India presents a contrasting picture compared to top global markets as far as market share goes. In the US, for instance, none of the top players (General Motors, Ford or Toyota) enjoy more than one-fifth of the share.

Rakesh Srivastava, senior vice-president (sales and marketing), Hyundai, said market leadership means a greater connect with customers. His company had achieved this through innovation and product differentiation.

"In 17 years, we have climbed to an all-time-high share of over 17.5 per cent on the strong performance of Creta, Grandi10 and Elitei20," he said.

B V R Subbu, the former president of Hyundai Motor India, who now runs a strategy consulting company, said Maruti has built a strong presence in the below-Rs 5 lakh category. "In this category, which accounts for the lion's share in the Indian market, it is a two-horse race between Maruti and Hyundai. There was a time when Maruti relied on a simplistic approach of expanding the dealership network to grow sales. They have now started deepening and widening the product range. This is bringing them success. It is unusual for a company to be retaining this kind of share," he said.

Can a 50 per cent-share be a reality for Maruti? It is not going to be a cakewalk as competitors are constantly upping their act.

"There is a tough fight to gain even a 0.1 per cent share in the market. It will be challenging to keep growing the share. We will have to multiply efforts. The initial response to Brezza and planned launches makes us confident that we will grow more than the sector," said Kalsi.

The company has faced a capacity constraint and this could slow growth next year.

It hopes to start commercial operations at its Gujarat plant in early 2017 with an initial capacity of 250,000 units to add to the current capacity of 1.5 million.

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