For the auto sector, a rebound in consumer sentiment visible over the last couple of months has a silver lining — first-time buyers. The country’s leading carmakers — Maruti Suzuki India and Hyundai Motors — are both seeing sales being driven by those buying their first car, with Maruti’s percentage of first-time buyers up sharply from 39 per cent in the first quarter of last year to 43 per cent during April-June this fiscal.
Sales of Maruti’s entry level cars saw considerable movement, with the Alto sales picking up sharply since April and the Wagon-R posting an all-time high sales of 17,000 units in June.
Hyundai Motors has also corroborated the trend. “The entry segment is clearly seeing traction, especially those wanting to upgrade from two-wheelers to four wheelers, apart from customers wanting to exchange used cards for new entry cars,” said Hyundai’s company official.
The trend involving a surge in sales driven by first-time buyers has led to a sharp increase in sales of its entry-level Eon hatchback in the urban areas and both the Santro and the i10 in rural parts.
Mayank Pareek, COO, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki, said that while the company, on an average, had been getting about 5.5 lakh inquiries a month (including showrooms, over the phone and the web), conversion of this into actual sales had not been happening earlier. “The first-time buyer is more defensive. But now, clearly, there is a distinct improvement in sentiment,” he said.