Barring Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai Motors — the market leader and the runner up — all other car makers in top 10 in sales and market share have seen a change in their fortunes, in what has been a calamitous year for some.
Honda Cars is the biggest gainer having posted over 80% growth and has pierced into the top five position among carmakers.
The major shake up in market share pecking order, however, has the top two car makers, Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai Motor India, unaffected who continue to bolster their market share. The rest of car makers have seen a major change in their position in India.
The likes of Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), Honda, Ford and Renault have gained market share in India and climbed up the ladders at the cost of their home or regional rivals namely Tata Motors, Toyota, GM and Volkswagen.
According to an analysis done by ET, leading Indian, European, US and Japanese rivals have traded places with each other in a tough fight for market share. The passenger vehicle market is estimated to post a decline of 6.5-7% in FY14 to 2.5 million units approximately. M&M has finally grabbed a podium at third place overtaking its Indian rival Tata Motors.
Despite falling utility vehicle sales, M&M was ahead of Tata Motors, which has been worse off in FY14. Tata Motors, the maker of Nano and Safari, has seen decadelow volumes (1.38 lakh) and market share of 5.59%, that almost halved, taking it to levels seen in late 90s. A dated portfolio and intense competition took a toll on Tata’s volumes.
Tokyo-based Japanese car maker Honda Cars India had a dream run in FY14. It broke into the top five overtaking the world’s largest car maker Toyota’s Indian subsidiary Toyota Kirloskar, thanks to the strong response to its compact and mid-size sedan Amaze and City. The slipping of Toyota to number 6 could also be attributed to the plant closure in Bangalore due to labour trouble.
Similarly, there was a trade-off in market share between the US rivals and European rivals. Ford overtook General Motors India as the seventh-largest PV maker and similarly French car maker Renault overtook Europe’s largest car maker Volkswagen and became the ninth-largest car maker in India.
The increasing affinity towards sports utility vehicle in India buoyed sales at Ford and Renault, as the new products from GM India and Volkswagen India could hardly create major ripples in the market.
Experts say traditional rivalries between Japanese carmakers (Honda and Toyota) and between US car makers (Ford and GM) are being played out in India, with most gnawing at Tata Motors, Toyota, M&M and GM’s share.
Puneet Gupta, associate director, IHS Automotive, told ET, the level of satisfaction for a European brand beating another European brand is far more or a Japanese brand beating another Japanese brand than a European beating a Japanese brand.
“The regional rivals usually benchmark their products against the best in their own market, so overtaking regional rivals is always celebrated. But these have to be backed by strong fundamentals. Clearly the companies that have grown (Honda, Ford or Renault) have understood the Indian market better and tailored their offering better than the competition,” observed Gupta.
Regardless of these rivalries, the ones who have gained the most are the ones who have moved to an India-centric strategy to suit the domestic market in terms of right product at the right time. Honda Cars’ entry into the diesel segment in the sub-4 metre space offered a big boost to the company. Ford India and Renault India brought in a product in the sweet spot of growing compact SUV market and the numbers speak for themselves. And the leaders, Maruti and Hyundai continue to focus on their compact cars than the rest.
According to IHS Automotive, despite the falling market, MNC have reposed their faith in the long-term potential of Indian market and have been investing in local products to be built in India with local expertise at an Indian cost. Gupta who tracks the number on calendar year basis expects the growth of 3.5% in 2014. He expects the market to bounce back only in the second half and he forecasts the volumes to come back to a growth of 9% 2015, led by stable interest rates, improved sentiment under a new government.