Maruti Suzuki has announced that its entry-level product, the Alto, has crossed the 45 lakh sales (4.5 million units) milestone, becoming India’s highest-selling car. Since its launch in 2000, Maruti’s people’s car for the millennium saw strong consumer acceptance, and by 2004, it had become the bestselling car in the country.
- The Alto is now in its third generation
- 10 lakh unit sales mark hit in 2008
- Rivals the Kwid and S-Presso
Maruti Alto: tough early times
It wasn’t smooth sailing for the Alto in its initial years; the catch here was that the Maruti 800 – the car that put India on wheels – still lured many first-time car buyers. Maruti Suzuki initially struggled to convince buyers to pick the Alto over the iconic 800 despite the former looking fresher, having better engine and gearbox options, and more features without a big premium over the 800. The first Alto came with two engine options – the 45hp, 796cc petrol engine from the Maruti 800 hatchback, and a 65hp, 1.1-litre, 4-cylinder petrol motor.
Maruti Alto: 40 lakh unit sales by 2020
To draw more buyers to the Alto, Maruti made some strategic moves. It narrowed the 800’s range, launched more affordable variants of the Alto and marketed it aggressively. The efforts paid off, and after three years, the Alto wrested the throne from the 800 as India’s bestselling car.
Since then, the Alto's sales have continued to grow, reaching milestones upon milestones. In 2008, Maruti Suzuki sold 10 lakh units of the Alto, making it only the fourth car in the Indian market to hit that milestone after the 800, Santro and the Omni.
The Alto just took four years to sell another 10 lakh units and in 2016, it crossed the 30-lakh milestone, making it the only car in India to do so. By August 2020, Maruti Suzuki had sold 40 lakh Alto units.
Since the hatchback’s launch, the Alto has seen three iterations. In 2010, the first-gen Alto K10 was launched along with a CNG variant. Two years later, the Alto 800 was introduced and marked 2 million sales of the car. The second-generation Alto K10 was launched in 2014, followed by the third-gen model more recently in 2022.
Currently sold in seven variants, the Alto K10, which is powered by the K-Series 1.0-litre petrol engine, is priced at Rs 4,67,000 (on-road, Delhi) for the base Standard variants, going up to Rs 6,78,000 for the top-end VXi+ AMT variant.
Over 2 million units sold since FY2014
A quick look at the domestic market sales numbers of the Alto reveals that 22,20,441 units have been sold over 10 fiscal years, between FY2014 and FY2023, accounting for 49.34 percent of the total 4.5 million units. FY2019 has been its best year with 2,59,401 units but demand slowed down over the next couple of years.
FY2020 sales of 1,90,814 units were down by a substantial 26 percent, while the Covid-impacted FY2021 saw demand reduce by 16 percent to 1,58,992 units and to 1,45,167 units in FY2022.
Current-gen Alto still a favourite of the masses
What has brought the fizz back is Maruti Suzuki introducing the third-gen Alto K10 in August 2022, followed by the CNG variant, which delivers a fuel efficiency of 33.85km/kg, in November 2022. This move has seen sales improve year on year by 24 percent to 1,79,698 units.
The decadal sales data reveals that the Alto continued to be India’s bestselling car each year right till FY2020. In FY2021, the Alto dropped three positions to fourth rank and ceded the title to sibling Maruti Swift (172,671 units). In FY2022, when the Maruti Wagon R became the top seller (1,88,837 units), it continued to have fourth position, improving upon that in FY2023 to take third spot with 1,79,698 units after the leader Wagon R (2,12,340) and Baleno (2,02,901 units).
The Alto K10 rivals the likes of the Renault Kwid 1.0 and the S-Presso in the Indian market.