Retail Auto Sales Taper Off After Festive Bump-Up
Sales at auto dealerships fell after a bump-up during the festival season, indicating that probably it’s too early to anticipate a revival in the sector grappling with a protracted slowdown.
Vehicle registrations—a measure of sales at dealerships—declined 1.1% over the preceding month in December, according to data compiled by BloombergQuint from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways’ Vahan website. Retail sales, however, rose 11.1% year-on-year, helped by a low base.
India’s automakers—battling a slowdown even before the pandemic—ramped up production and pushed stock during the festive season to make up for a complete washout in the early part of the Covid-19 lockdown in March and April, and a slow recovery. But while retail sales picked up, they fell short of expectations, adding to the dealerships’ worries of heightened inventory. Vehicle registrations continue to lag pre-Covid levels.
Hero MotoCorp Ltd. saw demand from Uttar Pradesh, while retail sales for Ashok Leyland rose in Tamil Nadu. The top five states by registrations — Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Gujarat — accounted for 46-55% of sales for major automakers in December.
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. continued to outperform peers in December. Retail sales of the nation’s largest carmaker jumped 28.2% year-on-year in December.
Month-on-month, however, vehicle registrations fell for all automakers tracked by BloombergQuint. Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. was the only automaker that saw a yearly decline in sales as well.
For the quarter ended December, while Maruti Suzuki’s retail sales rose 8.5% over the year earlier, the new entrants, MG and Kia Motors Corp. beat peers.
Retail sales of four two-wheeler makers—Hero MotorCorp Ltd., Bajaj Auto Ltd., TVS Motor Co. and Eicher Motors Ltd.’s Royal Enfield—rose over the preceding month in December. Barring Bajaj Auto, the other three also saw an increase year-on-year.
For the October-December period, all two-wheeler makers tracked by BloombergQuint saw a decline in retail sales over the year earlier.
Commercial vehicle sales saw some pick up over the preceding month, but declined year-on-year in December.
The quarterly sales of the commercial vehicle makers tracked by BloombergQuint, too, declined 30.1% over the year ago despite a low base.
Tractors sales rose after a lukewarm November. All the tractor makers tracked by BloombergQuint witnessed an increase in retail sales both monthly as well as over the year earlier.
This is the only other segment besides passenger cars that saw a rise in retail sales in October-December period over the year earlier.