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Car, SUV sales grow 8% in Feb owing to marriage season, lower fuel prices

New vehicle demand, lower fuel prices and the rush to claim depreciation pushed sales of eight of the country's leading car makers to a growth rate of eight per cent to 213,944 vehicles in February from the same month a year ago.

The ongoing wedding season also helped bring in additional sales, manufacturers said. Usually, buyers rush to purchase cars before March 31 to benefit from depreciation. New models such as the Hyundai i20 elite, Maruti Celerio and Ciaz, Tata Bolt and Zest and Honda City have seen a continued demand rise.

Maruti Suzuki, the country's largest car maker, managed to keep sales above 100,000 vehicles last month as well. With 46 per cent market, share the Delhi-based company reported domestic sales growth of eight per cent to 107,892 vehicles.

Sales in the mini segment, where Maruti has models like the Alto and Wagon R, grew seven per cent while its biggest segment comprising the Swift, Celerio, Ritz and Dzire saw a dip of 6 per cent. Sales of the Ciaz, Ertiga Omni and Eeco grew in the double digits during the month.

Hyundai saw sales grow nearly 10 per cent on continued strong demand for the i20 Elite and Grand i10. Rakesh Srivastava, senior vice-president, sales and marketing, Hyundai Motor India, said, “The growth in additional and repeat buyers is higher than that of first-time buyers. Reduction in interest rates could bring in the thrust and initiate double digit growth".

 

With no new vehicle launched recently Mumbai-based utility vehicle major Mahindra and Mahindra reported a dip in sales yet again. Wholesale volumes declined 6 per cent last month to 18,103 vehicles. The hike in excise duty has affected M&M the most as levies on sports utility vehicles are among the highest on all locally produced vehicles.

Pravin Shah, chief executive, automotive division, M&M, said, "The auto industry has not seen any major changes in the budget. However, looking at the overall budget proposals, including planned spending on infrastructure and social reforms, we expect a positive sentiment. Further, with an expected revision in lending rates, the industry should see better times."

Honda, the biggest Japanese car brand in India, continued its upward surge by posting sales growth of 16 per cent. The company, the fourth biggest car maker in India, saw strong demand for the City and Amaze, which contribute 80 per cent of its sales volume. Honda has rapidly scaled up production from its new plant in Rajasthan.

Mumbai-based Tata Motors continued to rebound with new models like the Zest and Bolt. The company marked a sales growth of 22 per cent in February selling 13,767 vehicles. Utility vehicle sales continued to remain lacklustre, though.

For other companies like General Motors, February remained a struggle. Its staid product portfolio posted a decline of 23 per cent last month in India selling just 4320 vehicles.

P Balendran, vice-president, General Motors India, said, "The discontinuation of excise duty benefits has impacted the industry during the last two months. Even the budget announcements are not enough to revive consumer sentiment. Car sales will be driven mainly by new entries and we expect the market to gain momentum if interest rates are reduced in phases to facilitate consumer spending since over 85 per cent of  vehicles are purchased through financing."