On a sequential basis, though, factory dispatches of passenger vehicles improved, as companies expected sales to increase during the festive month of October.
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, the country’s largest passenger vehicle manufacturer, witnessed 26.7% year-on-year (y-o-y) drop in dispatches to 112,500 units, while Hyundai Motor India Ltd reported 14.8% fall to 40,705 units, despite a healthy response for its first compact sport utility vehicle, the Venue, launched in May.
Another leading manufacturer, Tata Motors Ltd, reported a massive 56% decline in dispatches to 8,097 units, while Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) saw volumes dip by 33% to 14,333 units from the year-ago period. Japanese manufacturer Honda Cars India Ltd reported 37.2% fall in dispatches to 9,301 units.
However, with significant discounts, carmakers expect better festive period sales than last year, considering that both Navaratri and Diwali fall in October. Festival sales make up one-third of total vehicles sales in a fiscal year.
Last year’s festive season sales were the worst in five years, in the aftermath of the Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services bankruptcy, when banks tightened credit disbursal norms, and non-banking financial companies stopped lending due to lack of liquidity.
In July and August, Maruti Suzuki’s factory dispatches fell below the 100,000-unit mark as the company cut production and wholesales to dealers. In September, the company dispatched 112,500 units to dealers. Hyundai also touched the 40,000-unit mark in September after slipping to 38,205 units in August. This trend is visible in the wholesales of most of four- and two-wheeler manufacturers.
According to Rajesh Goel, senior vice president and director, sales and marketing, Honda Cars India, the market was tough in September, but auto sales saw an uptick from August, which was a positive sign. “We hope the consumer sentiment further improves during the ongoing festive season, and helps the sales momentum. There are attractive offers available in the market, which make this as the best time for customers to buy new cars," said Goel.
“We are positive that this festive season, with the onset of Navratri, will augur well for us and the automotive industry. This, in addition to a good monsoon and recently announced positive government initiatives should help revive the industry in the short term," said Vijay Ram Nakra, chief of sales and marketing, M&M.
Prolonged sluggishness in the economy and an increase in freight-carrying capacity of trucks following new axle-load norms continue to pull down commercial vehicle (CV) sales. Tata Motors, India’s largest CV manufacturer, reported 47% y-o-y drop in sales to 24,279 units, while sales of Ashok Leyland dropped by 57% to 7,581 units.
Two-wheeler makers increased dispatches in September, expecting a sales recovery, but witnessed double-digit fall. Hero MotoCorp, for instance, reported 20.4% y-o-y drop in sales to 612,204 units, while Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India Ltd saw 12.3% decline in sales to 455,892 units. Bajaj Auto Ltd saw a 35% decline to 177,348 units from the year-ago period.