The Maruti Suzuki Alto has been one of the best selling models for the company in India and ever since the launch of the brand in 2000. Now the company says that brand Alto has sold 38 lakh units in the past 19 years and it has been the best selling car for the past 15 years. The 800 had been the best seller before brand Alto became a popular name in the Indian automotive market. The Alto was launched as a brand to replace the ageing Maruti 800 and by 2008, just 8 years after its launch in the country, the company sold 10 lakh units of the car.
Sensing that something more could be done with the brand, two years later, Maruti Suzuki launched the Alto K10 in the country which came with more features and a more powerful engine as also better on space; basically a more premium offering in the entry-level space.
The sales numbers kept getting better and by 2012 Maruti Suzuki had sold 20 lakh units of the Alto. However, in 2014, Global NCAP crash tested the Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 and it received a zero star rating putting a big question mark on the safety levels in the car. Global NCAP in fact said that the vehicle structure proved inadequate and collapsed to varying degrees, resulting in high risks of life-threatening injuries to the occupants. The extent of the structural weaknesses in this model were such that fitting airbags would not be effective in reducing the risk of serious injury.
The Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 now comes equipped with safety features and is also BS6 compliant
This news did dampen the sales of the Alto and meanwhile, new players in the segment too made it a little difficult for the Alto to achieve the 30 lakh sales milestone. The milestone finally came in 2016; yes it took 4 years to achieve that. As far as safety compliance goes, Maruti Suzuki only recently made sure that the Alto 800 and the Alto K10 were equipped with safety features as standard and this includes a driver side airbag, anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic force distribution (EBD), rear parking sensors, speed alert system and seatbelt reminder, so now both the cars are compliant with the safety regulations in the country.
Both the Alto 800 and the Alto K10 are now available with BS6 emission norms which come into effect in April 2020. Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director (Marketing & Sales), Maruti Suzuki India said, "Nearly 54% of Alto customers are first time car buyers. Alto has been the preferred choice for entry car buyers due to several factors like its compact design, easy maneuverability, high fuel efficiency, updated safety features etc, while maintaining the affordability."
The Alto now faces an uphill task though, as the company readies its next generation, which will probably be showcased at the 2020 Auto Expo. With cars like the Renault Kwid, the Alto already faces challenges in terms of sales and Maruti Suzuki also launched the S-Presso which makes for a better proposition over the Alto. We wait to see how the Alto fairs in the coming years as the pressure is certainly now mounting.