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Auto sales pick up steam, see 10% growth

Following a muted festive season, demand in India’s automobile sector has picked up pace, with eight of the country’s leading manufacturers on Monday reporting combined passenger vehicle sales of 198,427 in November, a 10 per cent annual rise.

Sales of passenger vehicles had dropped 7.52 per cent to 221,151 units in October, the first fall since April this year, when sales had declined 9.5 per cent to 188,541 units.

The rise in sales in November was led by Maruti Suzuki, whose sales increased 17 per cent to 100,024 units in the domestic market, primarily owing to launches of the Celerio and Ciaz models. Though the company’s sales in the mini car segment (Alto, WagonR) declined 0.8 per cent to 37,746 units, strong demand for mid-sized cars boosted overall sales. Maruti sold 37,339 compact cars (Swift, Celerio, Dzire and Ritz) in November, growth of 13.8 per cent compared with the 32,804 units sold in the corresponding month last year. The newly launched Ciaz recorded good demand, with 5,232 units of the model being sold.

For Hyundai, too, a revamped product portfolio boosted sales. The Korean automobile major sold 35,511 units in the domestic market, six per cent more than the 33,501 units sold in the year-ago period.

Rakesh Srivastava, senior vice-president (sales and marketing), Hyundai Motor India Ltd, said, “The strong investment of launching four new products in a year’s time has resulted in this growth. Today, Hyundai has one of the youngest product portfolios, led by the Elite i20, which has reached a landmark number of 10,500 units, making it a top seller among the strong Hyundai brands.”

Honda Cars India maintained its upward surge, driven by the success of the new City. The company started a second shift at its facility in Tapukara, Rajasthan, which helped it meet the rise in the demand for its flagship sedan. In November, as much as 48 per cent of Honda’s sales were accounted for the City, at 7,252 units. A combined 6,899 units of the Amaze and Mobilio models were sold during the month.

Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice-president (marketing & sales), Honda Cars India, said, “We continue to witness strong demand for all our products, across markets. We are aggressively expanding our dealer network to reach out to more customers and recently, reached the milestone of 200 dealers in the country.”

Tata Motors saw its sales soar 16 per cent to 12,021 units, driven by demand for the Nano and Zest models. Consequently, the company’s sales in the passenger car segment rose 30 per cent to 10,286 units. Demand for utility vehicles such as the Sumo, Aria and Safari, however, took a hit, falling 30 per cent in November.

Meanwhile, General Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) and Ford saw a decline in sales. With no new launches, M&M continued to see sluggish demand in November, with its sales falling 18 per cent to 13,765 units. Pravin Shah, chief executive (automotive division and international operations), M&M, said, “The automobile industry continues to its sluggish demand on the back of factors such as low consumer sentiment and high interest rates. Falling international crude oil prices and the subsequent cut in fuel prices should help revive demand in the coming months.”

General Motors saw sales slide a whopping 36 per cent to 4,007 units. “Though the lower fuel prices are encouraging, interest rates remain sticky and inflation continues to be high. The outlook remains grim and it is very unlikely that passenger cars will post positive growth this financial year, under the current economic conditions,” said P Balendran, vice-president, General Motors India.

“Discounts are at their peak and sales of diesel vehicles are tapering, as the price differential between the two fuels is dropping sharply. Going by the market scenario, we expect the challenging times to continue till some major announcements take place in the Budget to improve customer sentiment,” he added.

Anurag Mehrotra, executive-director (marketing, sales and service), Ford India, agreed. “The perceived improvement in consumer sentiment is yet to translate into better sales for the automotive industry. A lacklustre festive season was certainly not what the industry had expected. While we are confident of the long-term growth potential of the Indian market, we continue to be cautiously optimistic in the near term.” In November, Ford India registered a 28.4 per cent decline in domestic sales at 5,661 units.

IN THE FAST LANE
Domestic sales of top car makers in Nov (No. of units) and change over Nov ’13

  • MARUTI SUZUKI
    Sales: 100,024
    % change: 17.0
  • HYUNDAI
    Sales: 35,511
    % change: 6.0
     
  • MAHINDRA & MAHINDRA
    Sales: 13,765
    % change: 18.0
     
  • TATA MOTORS
    Sales: 12,021
    % change: 15.9
     
  • HONDA CARS INDIA
    Sales: 15,263
    % change: 64.0
     
  • GENERAL MOTORS
    Sales: 4,007
    % change: 35.5
     
  • TOYOTA KIRLOSKAR
    Sales: 12,175
    % change: 19.3
     
  • FORD INDIA
    Sales: 5,661
    % change: 28.4
     
  • TOTAL
    Sales: 198,427
    % change: 10.3

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