India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki on Thursday countered finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s claims that the rise of taxi aggregators such as Ola and Uber could be one of the reasons for the crisis in the automobile sector.

The ownership pattern in India has still not changed and people purchase cars because it is aspirational, PTI reported, citing Maruti Suzuki India’s executive director, marketing and sales, Shashank Srivastava. “The Ola and Uber factor may not be strong to contribute to the current state of slowdown," he said

The auto sector witnessed some of its best times even after ride hailing services became popular, Srivastava said.

“Ola and Uber came into existence 6-7 years ago. In this period, the auto industry also saw some of its best times. So, what happened only in the last few months that the downturn became so severe? I do not think it is only because of Ola and Uber," Srivastava added.

The auto industry saw monthly passenger vehicle sales record the steepest fall in August.

Passenger vehicle sales plunged 31.6% to 196,524 units in August from a year earlier, while car sales fell 41% to 115,957 units. This was the worst-ever drop for both categories since the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers started recording data in 1997-98.

August was the 10th straight month that witnessed a fall in car sales. Truck and bus sales dropped 39%, while two-wheeler sales fell 22% to 1.5 million units.

PTI contributed to this story.

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