April turns out to be a good month for auto majors

April proved to be a good month for auto majors in the country with Maruti, Hyundai Motors, Mahindra and Mahindra and Renault all clocking strong sales. 

Industry analysts state that passenger vehicle volumes have risen 11% from a year earlier to about 2,47,000 units in the past month, aided by new launches in the utility vehicle segment. 

At Maruti, sales grew more than 16% to 1,17,045 units in April in the domestic market, helped by demand for premium hatchback Baleno and compact sport-utility vehicle Vitara Brezza. 

Maruti's sales increased across segments, except for the small-car category — Alto and WagonR — where volumes fell nearly 10%. But in the utility vehicle segment, sales rose nearly fourfold, driven by the Vitara Brezza. 

"We are happy to begin this fiscal (year) on a positive note," said RS Kalsi, executive director for sales and marketing at Maruti Suzuki. He said the company, the market leader, is making efforts to improve availability of the Baleno and Brezza which run long waiting lists. 

Hyundai Motor India's local sales increased 9.7% to 42,351 units in the past month. Senior vice-president for sales and marketing Rakesh Srivastava attributed this to the strong demand for Creta, Elite i20 and Grand i10 models.

While French car maker Renault rode on the success of small car Kwid with sales increasing more than threefold to 12,426 units in April, local auto major Mahindra & Mahindra posted a 16% rise at 22,655 vehicles. At Ford, volumes grew more than 32%. 

Pravin Shah, chief executive officer, Mahindra, said while the company expects to maintain its growth momentum, concerns remain on the ban on large diesel vehicles in the National Capital Region. "We do hope that the Supreme Court  will take cognisance of all the facts, including the role that the automotive industry plays in the country's industrial growth," Shah said. 

Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice-president for marketing and sales at Honda Cars India (HCIL), also voiced similar concerns. "The automobile industry is facing a big challenge because of the sudden shift in consumer preferences from diesel to petrol,” said. “Moreover, the continuing ban on diesel has also impacted consumer sentiment. All these have impacted HCIL sales as there is a big mismatch in demand and availability of required variants. We are now taking corrective measures to address the situation." 

Honda's India sales fell 17% to 10,486 units last month. Sen, however, said: "Despite the current challenges, HCIL is confident of positive growth in this fiscal (year)."

Demand in the two-wheeler industry held good with market leader Hero MotoCorp reporting third consecutive month of double-digit growth at 15% to 6,12,739 units and rival Honda Motorcycle & Scooter posted a 27% increase to 4,31,011units.