SUVs power best-ever February, India PV Inc set for 4.25 million sales in FY2024 | Autocar Professional

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Sales in the leap-month of February 2024 have leaped to an all-time high – estimated at over 370,000 units and an 11% year-on-year growth (February 2023: 334,790 units). The high level of wholesales / dispatches to dealer showrooms across India will propel India Passenger Vehicle Inc to a best-ever fiscal.

At an estimated 38,49,319 units in the first 11 months of FY2024, India PV Inc is just 40,795 units behind FY2023’s record wholesales of 38,90,114 units. With the fiscal-ending March 2024 will most likely deliver another round of record-breaking numbers, going far beyond March 2023’s 336,074 units, India PV Inc could be driving at a best-yet 400,000-unit sales next month and an FY2024 total of nearly 4.25 million units.

The utility vehicle (UV) segment which comprises SUVs and MPVs, continues to do the heavy lifting for the industry. This sub-segment has proven to be the bulwark of the PV industry and its sustained double-digit growth has helped buffer the sharp decline in mass-market entry-level cars and the slowdown in demand for other vehicle categories like hatchbacks and sedans.

Between April 2023 and January 2024, OEMs dispatched 20,61,075 units, recording handsome 25% YoY growth and raced ahead of FY2023’s record 2 million UV sales. In percentage terms, the UV share of total PV sales (34,69,108 units) works out to 59%, seven percentage basis points higher than the 51.50 percent in FY2023.

Of the 16 PV manufacturers and SIAM members, seven released their February wholesales numbers with total sales adding up to 339,114 units, an increase of 16 percent year on year. Let’s take a closer look at the top players’ performance last month and for the fiscal to date.

MARUTI SUZUKI INDIA: 160,271 units, up 9%
April 2023-Feb 2024: 16,07,163, up 9%

That India PV Inc will scale a new high in FY2024 is a given, what with the market leader Maruti Suzuki India firing on all cylinders – despatches of 160,271 units in February are up 9% YoY. Providing the sales charge, as it has been for the entire fiscal as well as the record CY2023, has been the company’s SUV and MPV range. The eight-model UV portfolio, comprising the Brezza, Grand Vitara, Fronx, Jimny, S-Cross, XL6, Ertiga and the new Invicto, together sold 61,234 units in February, the third best monthly numbers in the current fiscal after July 2023 (62,049 UVs) and January 2024 (62,038 UVs).

For the past year or so, utility vehicles – SUVs and MPVs – are turned into the firm growth driver for Maruti Suzuki. Cumulative 11-month UV sales of 583,860 units are up by a handsome 77% YoY (April 2022-February 2023: 329,075 units). This is an additional 254,785 UVs sold YoY.

To put things into perspective, Maruti Suzuki’s UV sales alone are more than the entire PV sales of each of the leading car and SUV OEMs in India for the first 11 months of FY2024 – Hyundai Motor India (561,723 units), Tata Motors (522,539 units), Mahindra & Mahindra (419,246 units) and Toyota Kirloskar Motor (219,821 units).

Utility vehicles now account for over a third of Maruti Suzuki’s 1.6 million passenger vehicle sales. 583,860 UVs in FY2024 to date are up 77% YoY. In February 2024, the share of UVs (61,234 units) in overall PV wholesales (160,271 units) is 38.20 percent. For the first 11 months of FY2024, cumulative UV sales (583,860 units) have contributed 36.32% to Maruti Suzuki’s PV sales of 1.6 million PVs.

This massive demand for its UVs has not only helped the company to top the SUV charts and market share but notably helped buffer the sizeable decline in sales of its two hatchbacks, seven compact cars and the its premium Ciaz sedan.

Tata Motors: 51,267 units, up 20%
April 2023-Feb 2024: 522,539 units, up 5%

Tata Motors has followed up its best-ever monthly sales performance in January 2024 (53,633 units) with dispatches of 51,267 units in February 2024, up 20% YoY (February 2023: 42,862 units). This marks the second month in a row that the carmaker has clocked sales of over 50,000 units and includes 6,923 EVs, up 30% (February 2023: 5,318 EVs). In fact, this February performance helps it pip the firm No. 2 Hyundai Motor India by 1,057 units (50,201 units). And at 522,539 units in the first 11 months of FY2024, Tata Motors is 21,852 units away from its record FY2023 sales of 544,391 units. 

The company, which retails seven PVs – Altroz, Tigor, Tiago, Nexon, Punch, Harrier and the Safari – in the domestic market, has capitalised on surging demand for its SUVs, particularly the Nexon and the Punch compact SUVs. What has benefited the company’s growth over the past couple of years is that Tata Motors’ PV ‘New Forever’ portfolio covers petrol, diesel, CNG and electric powerplants, thereby considerably expanding its consumer reach compared to most of its rivals. 

Another factor that has acted as a catalyst to Tata Motors’ accelerated growth is its first-mover advantage in India’s fast-growing electric vehicle market, where it has an over 70% market share. The company currently retails the Nexon EV, Tigor EV and Xpres-T (for fleet buyers), the Tiago EV and the recently launched Punch EV at Rs 10.99 lakh.

Sustained demand for its EVs sees Tata record 6,923 units in February, on the back of its best-ever monthly EV sales of 6,979 units in January 2024. Cumulative 11-month EV sales are 67,095 units, up by a strong 54% YoY. Given the monthly average of 6,100 units, March 2024 should help drive total sales beyond the 75,000-unit mark in FY2024.

Hyundai Motor India: 50,201 units, up 7%
April 2023-Feb 2024: 561,723 units, up 9%

After hitting best-ever domestic market monthly sales of 57,118 units in January 2024, Hyundai Motor India has reported February 2024 numbers of 50,201 units, up 7% (February 2023: 47,001 units) but down 12% month on month.

Demand for the company’s overall passenger vehicle range continues to be powered by the Creta midsize SUV and the new Exter compact SUV. Like the other leading PV makers in India, SUVs are the key growth drivers for Hyundai whose SUV line-up comprises the Creta, Venue, Alcazar, Exter and the Tucson along with the Ioniq 5 and Kona electric SUVs.

The new Creta, which was launched in mid-January 2024, accounted for 15,276 units or 30% of total Hyundai dispatches in February. This, according to Tarun Garg, COO, Hyundai Motor India, “is the highest ever monthly sales recorded by ‘Brand Creta’ since its inception in India more than 8 years back in 2015.”

Between April 2023 and February 2024, Hyundai has dispatched 561,723 units, up 9%. At present, it is just 5,823 units shy of its record FY2023 sales of 567,546 units. This is the second fiscal on the trot that Hyundai has surpassed the half-a-million milestone and should hit the 600,000 wholesales milestone for the first time in FY2024.

Mahindra & Mahindra: 42,401 units, up 40%
April 2023-Feb 2024: 419,246 units, up 30%

Mahindra & Mahindra, with its SUV-laden portfolio, is making most of the wave of demand and in February 2024 dispatched 42,401 units, which makes for robust 40% YoY growth (February 2023: 30,358 units).

In India’s extremely competitive UV market M&M, which has eight SUVs (Bolero, Bolero Neo, Scorpio, Scorpio N, Scorpio Classic, Thar, XUV300, XUV400 and XUV700) and a sole sedan (eVerito), has maintained high double-digit YoY growth throughout this fiscal. While it has already scaled a new high for a fiscal in the first 11 months of FY2024 at 419,246 units, up 30%  – 42,401 units more than the record FY2023’s 376,845 units – M&M will easily drive past a record 450,000-plus units in FY2024 when March 2024 numbers are factored in.

Mahindra & Mahindra, which has reported a strong Q3 FY2024 performance, had a total of 226,000 open bookings as of February 1. This number is reflective of the continued strong level of demand for the company’s SUVs. The two Scorpios account for the maximum number of bookings – 101,000 units or 45% of total bookings – and are currently averaging 16,000 bookings per month. They are followed by the Thar (71,000 bookings), XUV700 (35,000 bookings), the two Boleros (10,000). The XUV300 and XUV400 together account for 8,800 bookings.

To cater to this huge demand for most of its SUVs, M&M has ramped up production substantially at its factories and has implemented a strategic plan to increase output to up to 49,000 units per month in the current financial year or 600,000 units per annum. 

Toyota Kirloskar Motor: 23,300 units, up 52%
April 2023-Feb 2024: 219,821 units, up 42%

Toyota Kirloskar Motor has reported record monthly wholesales of 23,300 passenger vehicles in February 2024, which makes for strong 52% YoY growth (February 2023: 15,323 units). This is 103 additional units over January 2024’s 23,197 units and is the best monthly performance in the fiscal year to date. 

Its 11-month cumulative wholesales are 219,821 units, a jump of 42% YoY (April 2022-February 2023: 154,798 units). TKM has already surpassed its FY2023 sales of 173,245 units and, with one month left for FY2024 to come to a close, it could wrap up this fiscal at around 239,000-odd units.

Commenting on the February 2024 wholesales, Sabari Manohar – Vice-President, Sales-Service-Used Car Business, Toyota Kirloskar Motor said, “With this month recording the highest monthly sales, we continue to witness rising demand coupled with good customer enquiries from across the regions. Notably, the SUV and MUV models are at the forefront of this demand surge, with the Innova Crysta, Innova Hycross, Fortuner, and Legender maintaining their leadership positions and significantly contributing to our growth story. Recently, the Innova Hycross set a remarkable milestone, clocking sales of over 50,000 units since its launch in November 2022, underscoring our focus on offering customers a choice of vehicle that fits their lifestyle and needs.”

Honda Motor India: 7,142 units, up 17%
April 2023-Feb 2024: 79,513 units, down 6%

Honda Cars India has reported monthly domestic wholesales of 7,142 units in February, up 17%. The latest Honda in town – the Elevate midsize SUV – has helped give the OEM a fresh charge in the market and is witnessing strong demand from buyers. The Elevate is also being exported to Japan as the next-generation WR-V and will help improve HCIL’s export performance in the coming months and year.

“Our performance in February has been as per our plan. The Honda Elevate maintains its strong performance, further strengthening its presence in the market. The Honda City and Amaze also continue to perform well in their respective segments. In addition, our export performance has also been robust,” said Yuichi Murata, Director, Marketing and Sales, HCIL.

Launched in September 2023, a total of 27,181 Elevate SUVs have been dispatched to dealers across India, contributing 38% to HCIL’s PV dispatches of 72,371 units between April 2023 and January 2024. With the Elevate, Honda is once again part of the action in the booming SUV market.

SUV sales fest coming up in March 2024
With the wave of UV demand continuing, it’s not surprising that the companies with SUV-heavy portfolios continue to make gains month after month in the overall PV market. And it should be the same in the fiscal year-ending March 2024.

In the first 10 months of FY2024, the first three of the top six OEMs with six-pack sales numbers have already exceeded their entire FY2023 UV sales – Maruti Suzuki (522,626 vs 3,66,129 units in FY2023), Mahindra (376,832 vs 3,56,961 in FY2023), Hyundai (319,122 vs 301,681 units). While Tata Motors (314,653 vs 357,249 units in FY2023) and Kia India (204,034 vs 269,229 units in FY2023) are yet to achieve that, Toyota Kirloskar Motor has delivered a sterling performance (152,042 vs 132,490 units in FY2023).

Given the strong customer demand and market momentum, it can be surmised that March 2024 should deliver SUV and MPV sales in excess of 200,000 units to a UV-hungry market. This will provide enough ammo to drive India UV Inc across the 2.5 million UV sales milestone for the first time, and India PV Inc to a record 4.25 million units.

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