Passenger car sales disappoint, again

Passenger vehicle sales in the domestic market continued to sputter in May, with high financing costs, an increase in fuel prices and sluggish economic activity keeping customers away from showrooms. During the month, eight of the country’s leading automobile makers together sold 1,83,468 units, a nine per cent decline compared with 2,01,533 units in May 2012.

Industry volumes were dragged down by Maruti Suzuki, which registered domestic sales of 77,821 units, a 13 per cent fall against the year-ago period. The company, which increased its market share in the last financial year, riding on the success of Swift, DZire and Ertiga, saw volumes slide across segments. While sales in the premium hatchback category (Swift, Ritz and Estilo) fell 29.4 per cent to 17,147 units, DZire sales declined 2.5 per cent to 17,265 units. Sales in the utility vehicles space (Gypsy and Ertiga), which were buoyant through most of the last financial year despite the downturn in the industry, fell a whopping 44.3 per cent to 4,307 units, against 7,734 units in May 2012.

Sumit Sawhney, executive director (marketing & sales), Renault India, said, “The macroeconomic numbers are not encouraging. In the first four months of the calendar year, the industry declined 12 per cent. In fact, passenger car sales have contracted 18 per cent. Inflation and fuel prices remain high, resulting in lower levels of disposable income with consumers. This is affecting sales.”

While Toyota Kirloskar’s sales dropped a sharp 35 per cent to 10,023 units, Ford India sales declined 33.9 per cent to 4,002 units. For Tata Motors, the fall was sharper — volumes fell 45.7 per cent to 11,134 units.

South Korean automobile major Hyundai Motor India’s sales grew a meagre 0.3 per cent to 32,102 units. Rakesh Srivastava, senior vice-president (sales and marketing), Hyundai Motor India, said, “Hyundai has maintained positive growth and will gain share in a market that is at the near-bottom level and is expected to move into positive growth in the coming months, as the demand for petrol cars is improving.”

Company May 2012 May 2013 % Change Maruti Suzuki 89,478 77,821 -13 Hyundai Motor India Limited 32,010 32,102 0.3 Tata Motors 20,503 11,134 -45.7 Mahindra & Mahindra 21,154 22,244 5.2 Toyota Kirloskar 15,501 10,023 -35.3 General Motors 6,079 8,500 39.8 Ford India 6,036 4,002 33.7 Renault India 438 6,300 1,338.4 honda Cars India 10,334 11,342 9.8 Total 201,533 183,468 -8.96
Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), which had overtaken Tata Motors as the third-largest car maker in the domestic passenger vehicle market last financial year, saw sales rise 5.2 per cent to 22,244 units. Pravin Shah, chief executive (automotive division), M&M, said, “The growth in capital investment and private spending has slowed, which is a cause for concern. At Mahindra, we remain cautiously optimistic of the situation and hope the auto industry would rev up sooner rather than later, on the back of new product launches.”

New launches helped boost the sales of Renault, General Motors and Honda Cars India. Renault sales increased 13-fold to 6,300 units, with the Duster accounting for about 80 per cent of the volumes. While the newly launched Amaze contributed 53 per cent to Honda’s volumes, the SAIL and the Enjoy, with combined sales of 5,028 units, accounted for 59 per cent of the sales of General Motors India.

P Balendran, vice-president, General Motors India, said, “We were able to register 40 per cent growth only because of the good response to our newly launched vehicles — Chevrolet SAIL and Chevrolet Enjoy. Economic activities have almost come to a standstill and the market remains completely depressed due to negative sentiment and structural bottlenecks.”