Car sales pick up speed in December


The automobile industry last month regained some of the momentum it lost in November, with passenger car sales of six leading companies growing by over 12 per cent. The six car manufacturers — Tata Motors, Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL), General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Mahindra & Mahindra — sold 101,934 units in December, compared to 90,959 units in the year-ago period.

Sales growth had slipped to its lowest in November on the back of a 19 per cent decline in HMIL’s overall sales and a 28 per cent drop in Tata Motors’ domestic sales. After Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), Hyundai is the country’s second-largest car manufacturer, with a market share of around 21 per cent. Maruti, which accounts for almost one out of every two cars sold in the country, would release its sales number for December on Monday. It is closed for a week following its annual maintenance schedule.

HMIL registered a marginal growth of 0.02 per cent at 47,228 units in December. While domestic sales rose 17.6 per cent to 26,168 units, exports continued to be a cause of concern, falling by 15.6 per cent to 21,060 units. Exports had declined by a whopping 52 per cent to 13,002 units in November.

Arvind Saxena, director (marketing and sales), HMIL said, “The year 2010 has been positive for the industry and HMIL overall. For the first time since inception, HMIL clocked record cumulative sales of over 600,000 units and new products like the Santa Fe as well as upgrades like the ‘Next Gen’ i10 have been very well received by the market and we continue to be a strong player in the domestic market. We expect the market to continue to grow in 2011 although the rate of growth may come down somewhat.”

Tata Motors, which had taken a major hit in November, with sales dropping for most of its models, posted a 28 per cent rise in passenger vehicle sales. It sold 19,977 units in December, compared to 15,661 units a year earlier. Nano sales picked up in December and the company sold 5,784 units of it, compared to 509 units in November 2010. The Indica range, too, logged 40 per cent growth at 5,923 units.

Abdul Majeed, India leader, automotive practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers, said “There was a negative perception about the quality of Nano due to incidents of the car catching fire. However, the company is effectively communicating and reaching out to customers. They have extended a four-year warranty on the car. Financing solutions are being made available. The mother plant at Sanand has come up and distribution is being expanded across the country. There is demand for the product and it is expected to do well going ahead.”

Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) reported a 28 per cent rise in passenger vehicle sales at 15,601 units. Rajesh Jejurikar, chief executive, automotive division, M&M, said, “The month of December has been one of exceptional performance for us. Our passenger vehicles segment has also shown an impressive growth of 28 per cent. All our brands have done very well.”

Two-wheeler manufacturers TVS Motors, Yamaha Motor and Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) together recorded a 34 per cent rise in sales in December at 347,271 units. While TVS sold 171,790 units (42 per cent growth), Yamaha and HMSI sold 34,839 (70 per cent) and 140,642 (20 per cent) units, respectively.