Car makers post highest sales ever in January

Car makers post highest sales ever in January

New Delhi: Auto sales continued to increase at a brisk rate in January, led by increasing demand for cars.

Car makers sold 145,905 units in January, a 32% jump over a year ago and also the highest ever, according to data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, or Siam. Powered by easier loans and improving consumer sentiment, car sales have been rising since March.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, the country’s largest car maker, saw its best month in 26 years, shipping 81,087 units to dealers.

“I expect volumes to remain strong in the next quarter," said Kausal Maroo, an analyst at Religare Capital Markets.

Tata Motors Ltd delivered 4,505 units of its Nano small car in January, the highest monthly sales since its launch. The firm has so far sold 21,308 Nano cars.

Truck operators, too, are placing more orders as the economy revives. This has led to an increase in commercial vehicle sales, which more than doubled to 53,447 units in January.

Sales of large trucks, a key barometer of the country’s economic health, more than tripled to 21,587 units in January, on par with 2007 levels, when operators were adding about 20,000 units to their fleet every month.

Analysts say some of this could be due to truck operators beefing up their fleets in advance of the tightening of emission norms expected in April. Thirteen large cities are to move from Euro III to Euro IV norms in April, while the rest of the country will move from Euro II to Euro III.

Two-wheeler sales rose 44% to about 1.1 million units in January. Hero Honda Motors Ltd remained the top two-wheeler company at 384,517 units, up 23% from a year ago. Bajaj Auto Ltd’s sales reached 179,322 units, a jump of 169%.

Two-wheeler financing, which had suffered due to rising interest rates and the inability to repossess vehicles in case of defaults in repayments, has begun to recover.

Most of the repossession issues have been sorted out, said Sugato Sen, deputy director, Siam. This has led to financiers returning to the market and lending money to prospective scooter and motorcycle buyers, though with stricter norms.