Mumbai: Auto sales in India grew for the 12th consecutive month in January, propelled largely by new launches and consumers advancing buying decisions in anticipation of further price hikes following the Union Budget at the end of February. Last year’s low volumes base in the same month also contributed to the healthy growth numbers. All the numbers are despatches to dealers, and not retail sales to consumers.
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, which sells every second car in the country, set a domestic monthly sales record of 81,087 units, an increase of 21%, while Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd (M&M), the market leader in utility vehicles, saw its highest ever sales of 28,988 units, an increase of 67%, despite raising prices by Rs5000-10,000 last month.
Graphic: Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint
Tata Motors Ltd, the country’s largest auto maker by revenue, also recorded all-time high sales of 22,707 cars, a growth of 47% over the corresponding period last fiscal. Sales of trucks and buses increased 109% to 17,373.
Vivek Nayer, senior vice-president, automotive sector, M&M, said the sales have been driven by the sales of the new mini truck Gio.
The sales of Hyundai Motor India Ltd, the India unit of the Korean Hyundai Motor Corp., increased by 40% to 29,601 units. Sales of the Chevrolet Spark, which sold 3,477 units in January, pushed up the numbers at General Motors India Pvt. Ltd, which grew 139% to 9,421 units, the highest since the company entered India 13 years ago.
Passenger car sales started falling in November 2008, declining 19.3% to 83,059 units before recovering three months later, due to cuts in excise rates and a reduction in interest rates as part of the government’s stimulus package following a global economic slowdown.
Neeraj Bandhu, director (India) at marketing and sales research firm CSM Worldwide, said the sales buoyancy is the function of good growth in different sectors of the economy, particularly manufacturing. “This has given lot of confidence to the consumers,” he said, adding that barring the past two years, January has traditionally been a strong sales month because buyers typically wait until the new year for new purchases.
Jatin Chawla, an analyst with IIFL, the research arm of India Infoline Ltd, expects the good run to continue, at least in February.
However, he added that sales could fall off beginning March, depending on the extent of an expected rollback in excise duty in the Union Budget.
Among two-wheeler makers, market leader Hero Honda Motors Ltd continued its strong sales at 389,000 units, up 23.5% from the year-ago period. TVS Motor Co. also saw its domestic sales go up 37% to 109,504 units. Bajaj Auto Ltd, the second largest two-wheeler maker by volume, will release its numbers on Tuesday.