* Best ever Dec-qtr net profit
* Q3 profit 17.99 bln rupees vs estimates of 20.36 bln rupees
* Vehicle sales up 11.3 pct for qtr (Adds details)
Jan 25 (Reuters) - Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, the country’s top-selling car maker, posted a lower than expected 3 percent rise in quarterly net profit as higher sales of its compact and utility vehicles were partially offset by higher raw material costs.
The company, majority-owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp , reported a profit of 17.99 billion rupees ($282.91 million) for the third quarter ended Dec. 31, versus 17.47 billion rupees a year earlier. (bit.ly/2FdPo9M)
That compared with the 20.36 billion rupees average estimate of 21 analysts, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Maruti’s results are important for Suzuki Motor as the Indian company provides the bulk of Suzuki Motor’s revenues and has a market value of close to $45 billion, about one-and-a-half times that of its parent.
Maruti sold a total of 431,112 vehicles during the quarter, up about 11.3 percent from a year earlier. Sales of compact vehicles, which include the Swift and Baleno, rose 26.9 percent, while sales of utility vehicles including the Ertiga and Vitara Brezza climbed 28.1 percent.
In December, Maruti said it expected to launch its first electric car by 2020.
Maruti Suzuki shares are among the best performers in India’s main stock index over the past year, rising nearly 65 percent compared to the broader market’s 31 percent gain.
$1 = 63.5900 Indian rupees Reporting By Arnab Paul in Bengaluru; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Mark Potter