After Russia, we continue our large scale overhaul of Historical Data with exclusive data for India now available annually from 1985 onwards – vs. 2004 previously. We have added no less than 20 new articles to complete Indian Historical Data. From its launch in 1958 all through the sixties, the Hindustan Ambassador reigns supreme over Indian sales charts. The Premier Padmini launch in 1970 adds a little spice to the fight for pole position which is however estimated to have stayed with the Ambassador for the majority of the time up until the mid-eighties. The Padmini would remain #2 from 1985 to 1990 and inside the Top 10 until 1995 while the Ambassador would resist until 1998 when it, also dropped out of the Top 10.
If both the Ambassador and the Padmini were sophisticated rides, in 1985 Maruti launches the 800, originally based on the 1979 Suzuki Fronte and the first truly popular car in India, but soon replaced by a rebadge of the 1984 Suzuki Alto. It’s a game-changer: 25% share as soon as its first year on sale and the start of 20 years of implacable domination, hitting a record 32.1% share in 1996 and a record volume (193.904) in 1999. The Indian new vehicle market would be multiplied by 10 over the following twenty years, crossing the 250.000 sales milestone for the first time in 1989, 500.000 in 1996, 750.000 in 2000, one million in 2004, 2 million in 2011 and 3 million in 2017. In 2005, the Maruti Alto ends the reign of the 800, itself starting a 13 year-long domination, becoming the first nameplate in India to cross both the 200.000 and 300.000 annual unit marks. The Alto was toppled from its long reign by the Maruti DZire in 2018.
Maruti would surf on the 800 and Alto success to tighten its grip on the market, reaching a record 59.2% share in 1998, a milestone that still stands today with Maruti back above 50% in 2018 for the first time since 1999. Indeed, long the exclusive territory of local manufacturers, India would wait until 1996 to truly open to foreign carmakers, going from 5.3% share that year to 28% in 2000. The Daewoo Cielo is the first foreign nameplate to break into the Indian annual Top 10 at #9 in 1996, but the Hyundai Santro then takes the relay, breaking into Top 5 in 1999 and the podium – at #2 – in 2000. Launched in the country in September 1998, Hyundai shot straight to the top: #3 brand in the country as early as 2000, and has held the #2 spot without interruption since 2008.
Follow also the success of the Maruti Omnivan up to #2 in 1991, the Mahindra Jeep, #2 for six consecutive years between 1992 and 1997, the expansion of Tata into light commercials with the 407 up to #5 in 1991, the Mercedes clone the Estate/Sierra, into SUVs with the Sumo up to #5 in 1997 and finally into passenger cars with the Indica up to #3 in 2002, then the ambitious launch – and subsequent flop – of the Nano, “the cheapest car in the world” in 2009. Witness also the detailed performance of forgotten models such as the Premier NE118 – a Seat 124 rebadge – and Hindustan Contessa – a rebadged Vauxhall VX-Series, the gearing up of the Maruti Swift and its sedan variant, the DZire originating in India, as well as the surprise success of the Renault Kwid in 2016. All the Historical articles are below.
India Historical Info: