Passenger vehicle sales dive 51% in March amid lockdown2 min read . Updated: 14 Apr 2020, 12:29 AM IST
- As many states push for an extension of lockdown, sales may be hit this month as well
- Performance in March is not strictly comparable as plants began to close around the last week
NEW DELHI : Passenger vehicle sales in India fell 51% from the year earlier in March as automakers shut factories for several days to comply with government directives aimed at curbing the spread of covid-19.
A total of 143,014 vehicles were sold last month, showed data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) on Monday. Automobile sales in India are counted as factory dispatches and not retail sales.
Sale of passenger cars fell 52% year-on-year (y-o-y) in March to 85,229 vehicles, while the sport utility vehicle segment posted a 45% y-o-y decline to 51,569 units.
Sales at Maruti Suzuki India Ltd and Hyundai Motor India Ltd, the country’s top two passenger vehicle makers, fell 47% and 41% respectively. Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd (M&M) recorded a 88% drop, while sales at Tata Motors Ltd fell 68% in March.
Analysts said the sales performance in March is not strictly comparable as automakers began to close their plants towards the last week of the month. Several had also planned for lower production during the month as they prepared to shift to the new Bharat Stage-VI emission norms from 1 April, while a shortage of parts supply from China also impacted operations.
With the three-week national lockdown which runs through Tuesday, set to be extended in various parts of India, sales are likely to be hit in April as well.
The covid-19 crisis has added to the woes of India’s auto sector, which has been battling headwinds like a liquidity squeeze and decline in consumption demand over the last year and half, which has impacted sales across categories.
“There will be challenges on the supply and demand side, and also on the issue of availability of finance, which will need to be addressed to bring back growth in the sector," said Rajan Wadhera, president, Siam. “March was one of the most challenging months for the sector as the 21-day lockdown resulted in bringing the production and sales of vehicles to a standstill in the last week," he added.
Sales of medium and heavy commercial vehicles fell 87% y-o-y in March to 5,645 units, while light commercial vehicles recorded a 89% decline to 7,382 units. Overall, commercial vehicles slumped 88% to 13,027 units in March.
In the two-wheeler segment, scooter sales fell by 32% to 263,181 units while motorcycles dropped by 41% to 570,860 units. Overall, two-wheeler sales fell 40% to 866,849 units.
A shortage of parts from China where authorities had also imposed a lockdown hit India’s two-wheeler and commercial vehicle production in March. “The market environment is quite negative currently,as there is uncertainty regarding the lifting up of lockdown period. In such a scenario, OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) posted very sharp sales fall in March, which we have never seen before. Broad trend has been very negative across segments. Such a weakness will be most probably carried forward in April too," said Ashwin Patil, senior research analyst, LKP Securities.