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Auto industry records highest ever sales this financial year

The domestic auto industry is set to hit an all-time high sales figure of 12.2 million units in 2009-10, surpassing the previous sales record of 10.1 million units in 2006-07.

The strong growth is in terms of passenger car volumes, two-wheelers and commercial vehicles. This also represents a growth of 25.48 per cent over 2008-09 (9.7 million units).

The phenomenal growth rides on the back of a low base, new launches — primarily in the compact car category — lower interest rates and the 4 per cent reduction in excise duty as part of the fiscal stimulus.

Rajiv Dube, president, Tata Motors, said: “The 25 per cent growth in 2009-10 is a two-year growth happening in just one year as the last financial year was nearly flat. If financing continues, as over 60 per cent of the vehicles are purchased on finance, it is expected that the demand would be sustainable in the medium to long term though it may not be as high as this.”

The growth for 2009-10 would also be more than double of what the industry had predicted earlier. At the beginning of the financial year, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) had predicted low single-digit growth for the sector. Later, the figure was revised to low double-digit growth following a spurt in sales during the festive months.

“The Indian automobile industry has recovered faster than any other market, post the global meltdown and we expect sales to cross the 12 million unit mark in 2009-10. Out of these passenger vehicles will be approximately 2 million units this time,” Dilip Chenoy, director general, Siam, said.

As per Siam, passenger vehicle sales in the country have gone up by 26.1 per cent between April and February at 1,750,139 units, as compared to 1,387,545 units in the corresponding period of the last fiscal.

“March has always been a high growth year for the industry and this time also we expect the overall industry to grow by over 30 per cent by this month end compared to the same period last year. This, despite the two consecutive hike in car prices and a marginal increase in interest rates,” Ankush Arora, vice president (sales and marketing), General Motors India, said.

However, according to Rakesh Batra, national leader (automotive sector), Ernst &Young, the higher base of the ongoing financial year will have a slowdown effect in the coming months. “The overall industry is expected to grow by around 15 per cent in 2010-11 and then it would slow down to anywhere between 10 and 15 per cent growth on a sustainable basis for the next three to four years.”

“The sector got a major boost from the government stimulus last year and this could have a lowering effect on sales in the coming financial year as the base is exceptionally high. Moreover, if new emission norms come into force, there could be another 3-4 per cent hike in car prices that would impact sales in the long run,” Abdul Majeed, analyst and partner, Price Waterhouse explained.