Automakers That Defied The Slump In 2019
Suzuki motorbikes stand lined up at the Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. Brand Center. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Automakers That Defied The Slump In 2019

Most automakers sold fewer vehicles last year during the industry’s worst slump in decades as Indians cut back spending in a slowing economy. But there were a few outliers.

Among the companies that bucked the trend are a maker of scooters, a luxury car giant and even the seller of construction equipment. They defied the slowdown when sales at dealerships, measured by vehicle registrations, fell after two years of growth. Average registrations of the auto industry declined 5.56 percent in 2019 to 2.14 crore units, according to data released on the website of the Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highways.

But these were the exceptions to the slowdown:

Suzuki Motorcycle

Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt. Ltd. saw its two-wheeler registrations jump 14.9 percent to more than 5.8 lakh units. That was driven by the demand for its gearless scooter Access 125. It’s a competitor to the Activa, a popular model from Honda Motorcycles India Ltd. whose retail sales fell 11.7 percent.

Retail sales also fell for Hero MotoCorp Ltd., India’s largest two-wheeler maker, and TVS Motor Company Ltd.

Suzuki Motorcycle wasn’t alone.

  • Bajaj Auto. Ltd.’s dealership volumes rose 3 percent in 2019. Piaggio Vehicles Pvt. Ltd.’s registrations rose 3 percent on the back of scooters and its three-wheelers.
  • For premium motorcycle maker Ducati India Pvt. Ltd., the units sold at dealerships jumped nearly 50 percent.

Jaguar Land Rover

Tata Motors Ltd.’s-owned Jaguar Land Rover India Ltd. sold 3,629 units through dealerships in 2019, an increase of 3 percent over the previous year. That compares with a 25.9 percent plunge for Audi India Pvt. Ltd. and a 10.4 percent fall for Mercedes-Benz India Pvt. Ltd.

But that’s a small consolation for JLR as its sales fell in China and the U.K., its home market, because of Brexit.

Mahindra Tractors

The tractor units of Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd. saw registrations increase more than 7 percent even as retail sales of the automotive unit that makes models like XUV 500 fell.

New Entrants

Kia Motors India Pvt. Ltd. couldn’t have asked for a better debut as its Seltos compact sports utility vehicle became a runaway success. MG Motors Hector SUV also saw demand the sale of 11,856 units in the second half.

Classic Legends Pvt. Ltd., the maker of Jawa motorcycles, sold 14,443 units during the year. The model competes with Royal Enfield’s motorbikes.

Electric Vehicles

Sales of electric two-wheelers jumped on a low base to 1.61 lakh units as demand for battery-powered transport grows. The growth was driven by incentives under the government’s FAME 1 plan that offered upfront incentives for buying EVs.

Sales of electric scooters made by Okinawa Autotech and Hero Electric rose last year. E-rickshaw volumes also picked up.

Construction Vehicles

India’s construction activity cooled in a slowdown economy and lack of government spending in the run up to elections. But companies making construction equipment sole more units.

JCB India, the maker of excavators to dumpers, saw is retail sales rise 3 percent to 29,126 units.

Retail sales jumped 15.2 percent to 3,382 units for construction equipment division of Escorts Ltd. For Caterpillar India Pvt. Ltd., sales rose 7.7 percent to 2,857 units.

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