In August 2010, the A-segment hatches sold about 70,000 cars while the B-segment closed at about 45,000 units. In January 2011, the split was approximately 82,000 to 49,000 and in June 2011 it went to 63,000 to 34,000 units. As the economy started getting back on its growth track, the numbers started telling a different story. In December 2012, the A-segment sold close to 55,000 units while the B-segment cars sold about 45,000 units. In December 2013 it was 52,000 vs 41,000 units and in December 2014 it was 41,000 vs 50,000. As you can see from the figures above, the numbers of A-vs-B segment gradually began to even out over the years until in 2014, the B segment numbers overtook that of A. And it was 2014, which marked the definitive shift of the Indian car market from compact hatchbacks to B-segment hatchbacks.
This paradigm shift can be attributed to increased per capita income in the past decade, especially in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. The economic chasm is still quite wide with a high percentage of people living under the poverty line. But for those who are above that line, their disposable incomes are going higher each year and so are their choice of automotive segments. After experiencing a slight slump back in 2013, the automotive market resumed its upward journey, finally clocking over 30 lakh car sales in the year 2016-17.
But this growth period threw up some other interesting statistics as well. SUVs which used to contribute to 14 per cent of overall car sales in 2010 shot up to 30 per cent in 2017. The biggest contributors to SUV sales today are the compact SUVs, which can be categorised under the C-segment. Also, in the B-segment itself, carmakers have successfully created two new niches – there are the B-segment regular hatchbacks like the Swift or the Grand i10 and the B+ segment hatchbacks like the Balenos, the i20s and their ilk.