NEW DELHI: Some foreign car brands are overly dependent on sales of their flagship models in India while others have yet to achieve significant awareness, suggesting that a marketing rethink may be necessary.

The Business Standard reported that, in 2014-15, fully 91% of Renault India's domestic sales came from the Duster, a compact SUV model.

Ford India faces a similar, if less stark, reliance on its leading vehicle, as the super-compact EcoSport urban SUV accounted for 71% of sales last year.

Two automakers – Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai – control almost two-thirds of India's passenger car market, and both have a much more balanced sales chart.

According to sector analysts, some companies have found it difficult to move beyond their flagship model because they have not done enough to challenge the existing market leaders.

"For some manufacturers, it was their choice to be a major in a particular segment because that is how one can get started in a market," explained Abdul Majeed, partner and national automotive leader at consulting firm PwC.

"But some of them have been stuck within that segment."

Japanese automakers Toyota and Honda are having some success in rebalancing their portfolios, with their leading models accounting for 44% and 41% of their sales totals last year respectively.

Another Japanese marque, Nissan-owned Datsun, faced a different problem when it launched into India last year, as it had almost no brand awareness.

This figure has now climbed to around 10%, and the firm is optimistic it can double that total in the coming six months.

Guillame Sicard, president of Nissan Motor India, pointed to the 99% awareness levels commanded by market leader Maruti Suzuki as one of the hurdles that new entrants had to overcome.

Despite having built and exported 500,000 cars from India, Nissan has yet to make a serious impact with the Micra, its own flagship model. "We have been a little shy with our advertising," admitted Sicard, who expects this state of affairs to be addressed.

Data sourced from Business Standard, The Hindu; additional content by Warc staff