Are auto sales back at pre-pandemic levels, in 5 charts

Auto sales grew by a strong 21% in 2022-23, with most segments rising by double digits due to base effect. (Mint)
Auto sales grew by a strong 21% in 2022-23, with most segments rising by double digits due to base effect. (Mint)


  • The sales surge in the festival season in October and November, too, didn’t meet expectations fully

From supply chain hiccups to chip shortages, and high raw material costs to workforce crises at plants, the pandemic threw a range of challenges to the automotive industry. The just-concluded fiscal year marked the first full year with some sense of normalcy. But even as retail sales of passenger vehicles hit a record high, two-wheeler sales stayed below that in the pre-covid year of 2019-20, showed data released by the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA). The sales surge in the festival season in October and November, too, didn’t meet expectations fully. Here are the highlights from auto sales in 2022-23:

K-Shaped Recovery

AUTO SALES grew by a strong 21% in 2022-23, with most segments rising by double digits due to base effect. But at 22.2 million, overall sales were still lower than in 2019-20, the last pre-covid year, showed a Mint analysis of the transport ministry’s vehicle registration database. Only four-wheelers and tractors recorded a rebound when compared to 2019-20.

A total of 3.5 million four-wheelers were registered, up from 2.8 million four years ago. But two-wheelers, which serve the large middle-class population, were down 16% from 2019-20, or an average annual decline of nearly 6%, offering yet another symptom of unequal recovery across economic classes. This segment was the big drag on the overall figure since it accounts for nearly three-fourths of all vehicles sold in India. (That share, in fact, has declined dramatically, from 78% to 72% in four years.)

Meanwhile, tractor sales, a leading indicator of the rural economy, crossed 2019-20 levels.


States’ Show

THE RECOVERY is in the slow lane across the country. In 2022-23, only 10 of the 34 states and Union territories that are tracked by the Centre’s Vahan database recorded a full recovery to the 2019-20 levels, a state-level analysis showed.

Among major markets, only Assam, Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka recorded a growth in vehicle sales between 2019-20 and 2022-23. The average annual growth in the three intervening years was in the range of 0-3% in these states. (Nationally, the annualized growth was a negative 3.2% during the period.) Only Ladakh and Manipur reported more than 10% annual growth.

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal were among the laggard states, with sales declining the most, by an annual 7% to 11% from pre-pandemic levels. Gujarat, among the most industrialized states of India, saw sales remain somewhat flat since 2019-20.

Electric Mobility

THE BIG success story of 2022-23 was electric vehicle (EV) segment. A record 1.1 million EVs were sold in the year, thanks to quicker adoption and growing EV-friendly infrastructure, supported by the government’s subsidy scheme. The two-wheelers segment primarily drove the EV sales growth in 2022-23, accounting for more than 60% of the 1.1 million vehicles bought. This was nearly 2.8 times the sales reported in 2021-22, and 27 times the levels seen in 2019-20. Three-wheelers accounted for more than one-third of total sales, while the rest, including four-wheelers and electric buses, accounted for 4% of total sales. The mix across segments has changed in the past few years: in 2018-19, just 19% of all EV registrations were two-wheelers, and 79% were three-wheelers. EVs accounted for only 5.3% of all vehicle registrations, but this was the largest share ever.

Sustainable Transit

THREE-WHEELER category, which dominates short-distance public transportation, increased by 85% year-on-year to nearly 768,000 sales in 2022-23. Electrification in this category reached 52%, driven primarily by e-rickshaw segment, the FADA annual report released last week said, attributing it to the availability of finance, as well as alternative fuels and government subsidies.

Nearly 375,000 e-rickshaws were registered during the year, a 114% increase from the previous fiscal year. Uttar Pradesh had the most registrations, with Bihar and Assam a distant second and third, respectively. However, adjusted for population, Chandigarh and Assam added the most e-rickshaws last fiscal, followed by Delhi and Uttarakhand. North Indian states such as Punjab and Haryana also saw high adoption of e-rickshaws. However, big state economies such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and West Bengal added fewer than 50 e-rickshaws per million population, Mint calculations show.

Market Shifts

THE PANDEMIC has resulted in significant changes in consumer habits and behaviour. Preferences for affordable personal mobility have boosted sales for the entry-level vehicle category, while high-end vehicles have also seen increased demand. As a result of the shifts in consumption patterns, the market share has shifted too for India’s top five auto companies in the passenger vehicles segment.


According to FADA report, Maruti Suzuki’s market share is on a slow decline, falling from around 48% in 2019-20 to 41% in 2022-23. Still, it maintains its top position by far. Home-grown auto major Tata Motors has increased its market share from nearly 6% in 2019-20 to 13%. But in terms of ranking, the firm had the third largest market share, falling just short of Hyundai Motors, which, too, has lost market share from 17% to less than 15%. Kia Motors has gained from 2.3% in 2019-20 to 6.4%.

Catch all the Auto News and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.