New Delhi: Car sales in India rose to 1,56,018 units in September, the highest level this fiscal, raising hopes of a rebound in the market, which has been reeling under a prolonged slump.
“The good news is that for cars, passenger vehicles, utility vehicles and two-wheelers, September was the best month in terms of absolute numbers this fiscal. I hope we can continue with this momentum,” SIAM President Vikram Kirloskar told reporters.
However, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), struck a cautious note, saying it was unlikely that passenger car sales would post positive growth this fiscal under current economic circumstances.
It said the decline of 4.67 per cent in car sales in the first half of this fiscal was the worst since 2002-03, when sales dropped by 6.96 per cent in the same period.
Asked if the September sales reflected a rebound in the market, Mr. Kirloskar said: “It is difficult to say, but we have had a good monsoon and some positives around.”
Mr. Kirloskar said it was unlikely for car sales to post positive growth this fiscal “unless something really nice happens in the festive season.”
“I will be really happy if there is flat or even a slight positive growth this fiscal,” he added.
Domestic passenger car sales grew 0.73 per cent in September from 1,54,884 units a year earlier.
Market leader Maruti Suzuki India posted a 14.52 per cent growth in domestic sales at 78,975 units last month as against 68,957 units in the same period last year.
Hyundai Motor India posted a marginal decline at 30,580 units compared with 30,795 units last year. Tata Motors' domestic sales dropped 42.99 per cent to 9,766 units from 17,133 units.
Mahindra & Mahindra posted a 19.09 per cent dip in utility vehicle sales at 18,019 units as against 22,272 units.
Honda Cars India sales were up 85.64 per cent to 10,220 units.
Mr. Kirloskar said macroeconomic challenges such as high interest rates, inflation and fuel prices continue to affect consumer sentiment.
Mr. Kirloskar said employment of contract workers and trainees across the chain in the industry from component suppliers to manufacturers to dealers has been affected “significantly.”
On the stimulus package that the industry has sought from the government, he said: “We are trying very hard to explain to the government.”
In August, domestic car sales rose 15.37 per cent to 1,33,486 units, ending a record nine-month slump in sales.
Mr. Kirloskar said owing to the slump, there is currently an excess capacity of about 25-30 per cent in the passenger vehicle segment.
Asked if this would affect investment, he said: “The ones that have started will continue, but whether fresh investments will come or not is the question.”
According to SIAM, motorcycle sales last month grew 17.44 per cent to 8,85,117 units from 7,53,693 units a year earlier.
Market leader Hero MotoCorp's sales rose 15.26 per cent to 3,79,095 units, while that of rival Bajaj Auto fell 1.9 per cent to 2,02,310 units. Bike sales at Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) soared 40.46 per cent to 1,50,872 units.
Scooter sales in September climbed 24.94 per cent to 3,17,750 units from 2,54,321 units a year ago, SIAM said.
HMSI's scooter sales stood at 1,61,105 units, up 29.87 per cent. Hero MotoCorp posted an 18.95 per cent increase in scooter sales at 58,691 units. Chennai-based TVS Motor Co's scooter sales were up 5.7 per cent at 41,304 units.
Total two-wheeler sales in September grew 18.39 per cent to 12,65,704 units from 10,69,069 units in the same period last year, SIAM said.
Mr. Kirloskar said the commercial vehicles segment continued to struggle and their September numbers were the second-worst in more than three years.
Sales of commercial vehicles were down 26.95 per cent to 51,680 units from 70,746 units a year earlier, SIAM said.
“The stoppage of infrastructure projects and also in mining has affected the commercial vehicles segment badly,” Mr. Kirloskar said.
Sales of vehicles across categories registered growth of 11.64 per cent to 15,80,254 units in September from 14,15,526 units in the same month of 2012, it added.