The latest automobile sales numbers for September show that the decline continued when compared with the corresponding period last year. In fact, the country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki witnessed a 32.7 per cent fall in sales — the worst in the firm’s history. It could sell 1,22,640 units in September against 162,290 units last year same time.
But, there may be a silver lining in the form of a month-on-month
pick up in sales after the recent round of discounts and offers from auto majors. Industry executives were hopeful that the recent rise in buyer enquiries would translate into sales as Diwali draws closer.
“Growth in the market is driven by first-time buyers, and to attract this segment of customers, we have introduced a host of special schemes including low down-payment, aggressive interest rates and easy EMI. We expect a positive festive season and improving trends from here on," Sanjay Bhan, head of sales, after-sales & parts, at Hero MotoCorp said.
Number crunchers and analysts are focused on the data released on Tuesday. Sales of mini cars, comprising Alto and WagonR, stood at 20,805 units as compared to 34,971 units in the same month last year, down 42.6 per cent. Similarly, the compact segment, including models such as Swift, Celerio, Ignis, Baleno, and Dzire fell 22.7 per cent at 57,179 units against 74,011 cars last year in the corresponding period.
Against the backdrop of a severe slowdown and battered sales numbers, the month on month data is a source of optimism for the industry. Compared to August, vehicle sales increased by 15.25 per cent on the back of discounts. Maruti led the market in offering heavy discounts and incentives for buyers and dealers. "Along with the availability of liquidity improving, we had taken efforts to bring down the ownership cost for vehicle. The consumer footfall has certainly increased and we hope that sentiment will change as festive season proceeds," Shashank Srivastava, exective director, marketing and sales at Maruti Suzuki, said.
The Maruti management has kept its fingers crossed on the festive season demand and has stopped pushing any new stock to the dealership, so that the inventory level stays at a comfortable level of maximum 35 days. "We are optimistic, but have to wait and watch how the festival season pans out,’’ Kenichi Ayukawa, CEO of Maruti Suzuki, said recently.
Mumbai-based Tata Motors' sales in the domestic market too dropped in September, by as much as 49.68 per cent, compared to the same period last year. However, sales quadrupled month-on-month in September. The company had managed to sell just 7,316 units in August.
Mayank Pareek, president, passenger vehicles business unit at Tata Motors, said customers were responding well to the company's offers. "Towards the end of the month, there was an encouraging response in terms of customer footfall as reflected in more retail sales, as compared to August. However, the industry continued to decline," he said.