India's leading passenger car company Maruti Udyog has recorded better than expected sales for May 2004 at 44,212 units including exports of 6,171 units. Sales were up 12.8% compared to May last year.

The rise was dampened by the  relatively higher comparative base for May 2003 when sales were unusually high following strikes at a critical vendor and transporters in April. This lead to a major shift of April demand to May.

Though overall sales rose, Maruti's bread and butter product, the 800, recorded a drop of 41%. Comparison is skewed due to the unusual events in April last year, which probably affected the 800 the most.

The cumulative sales figure for the B-segment offerings, the Alto, Zen and WagonR posted the highest gains with a 64% rise to 21,137 vehicles.

Exports increased 131% over a relatively smaller base to 6,171 units.

The C-segment offerings - Esteem and Baleno - improved sales 37% to 1,510 units. Price reductions and incentives have helped these make gains.

Deepesh Rathore / Tilak Swarup