The Indian new car market grew 18.6% to 758,430 units in the first six months of 2007, according to UK-based analyst Jato Dynamics.

June sales rose 9.8% to 114,457 units and the best selling model in the first half was Maruti (Suzuki)'s Alto while Maruti was also the top selling brand.

"Although the market is experiencing significant growth, it is still a market dominated by a small number of domestically produced vehicles," Jato noted.

"Indian consumers are currently only offered a total of 80 models manufactured by 25 separate brands making the market much less diverse than Europe, North America and the other great emerging market of China."

"There are relatively few domestic producers and only a limited number of foreign-owned or joint-venture production facilities in India, particularly when compared to China," said Jato international sales and marketing director Nasir. "It's a fascinating market that will no doubt experience significant development in the coming years."

Jato also noted that, unlike many non-European markets, diesel cars play a significant role in the Indian market, accounting for at least 18% of sales in the first half of 2007.

Maruti was India's top-selling car brand in the first 6 months of 2007 (up 26.0% H1), ahead of Tata (up 9.4% H1), Hyundai (up 10.6% H1), Mahindra (up 3.8% H1) and Honda, which posted significant growth in the market of 30.6% over the same period.

Mahindra Renault, a new player in India, has enjoyed a successful introduction to the market, selling over 5,000 Logan units in less than three months. Other manufacturers showing significant growth in the Indian car market include Toyota, Chevrolet, Mitsubishi and Fiat.

The best-selling car in India in the first six months of 2007 was the Maruti Alto, ahead of the Tata Indica, Hyundai Santro (known in Europe as the Hyundai Atos/Amica) and Maruti Wagon R.

New models introduced in the last 12 months, and currently selling well include the Hyundai Verna, Honda Civic, Maruti SX4, Mahindra Renault Logan and Chevrolet Spark.

The mini car segment is the largest in the Indian market, and is up 16.5% YTD on 2006 led by the Maruti Alto, ahead of the Hyundai Santro, Maruti Wagon R and Maruti 800. The second largest segment during the half year period was the small segment, up 17.0% YTD and led by the Tata Indica, Maruti Swift and Honda City.

The SUV segment is the third largest in the Indian market. The big-selling products in this segment are large, relatively low-cost vehicles with significant off-road ability such as the Mahindra Scorpio and Tata Safari, rather than the more expensive, more road-biased products that appeal to western consumers.

However, Honda, one of the rising stars in the Indian market, has seen its CR-V model take an increasing share of the segment with sales up 52% YTD.