Passenger Vehicle Sales Drop For 11th Straight Month In September
Customers walk past a Hyundai Motor Co. vehicle at the company’s Koncept Hyundai showroom in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

Passenger Vehicle Sales Drop For 11th Straight Month In September

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Passenger vehicle wholesales in India declined for the 11th consecutive month in September as the onset of the festive season failed to lift buyer sentiment and pull the industry out of a prolonged downturn, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers said on Friday.

However, with buoyant demand witnessed during this year's Navratri, the auto industry body said, "green shoots are visible now" and hoped that various steps taken by the government to boost the economy will help sustain it.

According to the latest data by SIAM, passenger vehicle sales during September dropped by 23.69 percent to 2.23 lakh units, down from 2.92 lakh units in the year-ago period.

Similarly, passenger vehicles sales plummeted by 23.56 percent in the April-September period as compared with the same period last year.

Car sales had witnessed the worst fall in over two decades in August, slumping by 31.57 percent to 1.96 lakh units from 2.87 lakh units a year ago.

In September, domestic car sales were down 33.4 percent to 1,31,281 units last month as against 1.97 lakh units in the year-ago month, SIAM said.

The month saw motorcycles sales dropping to the lowest ever level in over two decades while commercial vehicle sales also declined the worst since January 2009, when the sales had declined by 67.6 percent.

Motorcycle sales in September declined 23.29 percent to 10.43 lakh units as against 13.6 lakh units a year earlier.

Total two-wheeler sales in September declined 22.09 percent to 16.56 lakh units compared to 21.26 lakh units in the year-ago month.

Similarly, sales of commercial vehicles were down 39.06 percent to 58,419 units in September as compared with 95,870 units in the same period of last year, SIAM said.

Vehicle sales across categories registered a decline of 22.41 percent to 20.04 lakh units from 25.8 lakh units in September 2018, it added.

SIAM President Rajan Wadhera said the passenger vehicle segment was impacted due to a slowing economy, floods in key markets like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra and low demand rural markets.

He, however, expressed hope that with the government announcing various measures to lift the economy, the auto industry may see things improving over the next few months.

"We have seen things improve over the last 10-12 days. Green shoots are visible now. The festive season, measures announced by the government and high discounts have enabled sales growth and helped in improving buyer sentiment in general," he added.

The industry has seen much higher footfalls and much higher sales conversion happening at this time, Wadhera said.

"We believe this could be that fly wheel that the industry was looking forward to and I think on the small base of last year's second half, this year's second half could probably give us little bit growth," he added.

Wadhera said that all indicators pointed out towards sales picking up even in the rural areas going ahead with a bumper crop expected in regions which were not impacted by the floods this monsoon.

"We are very hopeful that things will improve from here on," he added.

In the passenger vehicles segment, Maruti Suzuki India reported a 27.1 percent decline in its September sales at 1.1 lakh units. Hyundai Motor India witnessed a 14.81 percent decrease at 40,705 units, while Mahindra & Mahindra posted a fall of 33 percent at 14,333 units during the month.

In the two-wheeler category, Hero MotoCorp posted a 19.78 percent drop in sales at over 6 lakh units, while rival Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India saw sales decline by 12.4 percent to 4.55 lakh units.

Similarly, Chennai-based TVS Motor Company saw its sales slumping by 32.66 percent at 2.43 lakh units in September.

On the other hand, September retail sales data showed a somewhat better picture in terms of sales, pointing to inventory correction taking place in the industry.

According to the retail sales data, total automobile sales were up by 6.48 percent at 17.32 lakh units, compared with 16.27 lakh units in September 2018.

Similarly, passenger vehicles sales stood at 2.53 lakh units last month, compared with 2.34 lakh units in the same month of last year, an increase of 7.98 percent. Two-wheeler retail sales were up by 6.5 percent at 13.39 lakh units as against 12.58 lakh units in September 2018.

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