The new year seems to have brought some cheer to auto makers in the domestic industry, with 10 of the country’s 19 major manufacturers recording a growth of 12 per cent and selling 250,545 passenger vehicles (PV) in February.
The companies had together sold 223,186 units in the corresponding period last year. This is the highest growth rate recorded since April 2011, when PV sales had risen by 14 per cent.
The country’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), which battled slow sales and labour disruptions at its facility in Haryana’s Manesar for most of 2011, saw volumes grow by six per cent last month. The company sold 107,653 units in the domestic market – the highest registered in the current financial year.
Significantly, growth came in not from the company’s traditional bread-and-butter small-car segment, but from premium hatchback Swift and sedan DZire. While sales for entry-level cars M800, Alto, A-Star and WagonR fell by over eight per cent to 49,104 units, off-take of DZire went up by 58.8 per cent to 15,068 units. Sales in the premium hatchback segment too went up by 31 per cent.
Reiterating the trend, Korean auto major Hyundai, too recorded its highest-ever sales number in the domestic market at 36,805 units in February. Arvind Saxena, director (marketing and sales), Hyundai Motor India Limited said, “Even in the tough market situation, Eon sales have helped us to achieve the highest ever domestic sales.”
Industry observers informed that in both Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai newer models such as the third-generation Swift, the newly-launched sub-4m DZire and small-car Eon helped push up sales in the companies. Toyota Kirloskar Motor, which has also recently introduced upgraded versions of the Innova, the Fortuner and the Corolla Altis registered strong sales growing by 79 per cent to 16,659 units. Half the numbers filtered in from sales of the Etios series.
Abdul Majeed, partner and leader, automotive practice, Price Waterhouse, said “With interest rates expected to come down in the second half of the year, consumer sentiments seem to be improving in the domestic market. In the current financial year passenger vehicles sales are likely to grow between two and four per cent. But FY13 is definitely going to be better unless heavy taxations are imposed on the industry.”
Manufacturers, who have a strong portfolio of diesel vehicles, Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), continued to reap benefits from increased preference for the fuel variant in the Indian market. While sales for Tata Motors went up by nine per cent to 34,832 units, M&M sales grew by a third on the back of sport utility vehicle XUV500 and the multi-purpose vehicle Xylo.
US-based auto majors faltered with both Ford and General Motors registering declining numbers. Interestingly, sales also declined for Volkswagen which had launched small car Polo around the same time as the Ford Figo and Chevrolet Beat.