Car sales keep up high growth in March


Despite the partial roll back in excise duty reduction on cars in the Union Budget this year, buoyant demand helped sales maintain double-digit growth in March.

Combined domestic passenger vehicle sales of Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata Motors, Honda Siel, General Motors and Ford (which represent more than 90 per cent of all sales) rose by 19.3 per cent in March, to 1,95,805 units, compared to 1,64,104 units during the same month last year.

The growth was much lower than in February when anticipation of the partial roll back saw consumers preponing decisions to buy cars. As a result, sales in February grew by 34 per cent, hitting 1,94,548 units vis-a-vis 1,45,166 units in February 2009.

Car sales were sluggish till June last year, but then benefited due to economic recovery. As a result, passenger vehicle sales of these carmakers in 2009-10 went up by 26.7 per cent, to 2,429,419 units, against 1,918,146 units in 2008-09.

Sandeep Singh, deputy managing director (sales), Toyota Kirloskar Motors, said: “The increase in sales for March can be attributed to the rise in prices that would come into effect from April 1 because of increase in input costs, the implementation of Euro-IV (emission norms) and the increase in local road tax and local sales tax.”

While most companies are still to decide how much to raise prices, Toyota raised those of the Corolla, Innova and Fortuner models by Rs 5,000 to Rs 14,000 today. Industry experts and analysts feel the overall growth would continue in 2010-11, but at a lower rate. “The buoyancy in Tier-II and -III towns would help the industry to grow by 15 per cent in 2010-11, despite fears of increase in interest rates and high inflation,” Ankush Arora, vice president (sales and marketing), GM India, said. GM alone, he said, would register growth of 50 per cent over 2009-10.

Domestic sales of Maruti Suzuki India went up by 7.7 per cent in March, at 79,530 units as compared to 73,855 units in March last year, on the back of the recently launched Eeco, the Ritz, the new Grand Vitara, Estilo and SX4. In fact, its domestic sales and exports both reached their highest-ever levels during th year, making Maruti the only vehicle company in India to achieve a milestone of a million units being sold in a year, for the first time in 2009-10. It ended the financial year at 1,018,365 units sold vis-a-vis 792,167 units in 2008-09. Maruti’s exports surged over two-fold, to reach 147,575 units during 2009-10, against 70,023 units in 2008-09, driven by the A-Star model, which clocked 127,000 units.

Sales of Hyundai Motor India, the country’s second-largest passenger car manufacturer, jumped by 27.3 per cent last month, to 31,501 units as compared to 24,754 units in March 2009. This is the highest domestic sales in the history of Hyundai in India and is attributed to high demand for the i10 and I20 models.

Likewise, the Indigo Manza and the Sumo Grande MK helped Tata Motors register a jump of 17.4 per cent last month, at 27,761 units vis-à-vis 23,649 units in March 2009.