Feel-good factor rubs off on motown, lifts sales

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The positive sentiment over the formation of a stable government at the Centre immediately had a rub-off on India’s motown. Most car manufacturers have reported an upswing in May sales, but buyers shied away from Tata Motors, the largest player by volume, Mahindra & Mahindra, the largest utility vehicles maker, and General Motors. The auto mart has experienced sluggishness for over two years now due to high interest rates, poor income growth and high fuel prices.

Sales at Maruti Suzuki, India's largest carmaker, rose 16.4 per cent to 90,560 units, up from 77,821 in the year-ago month. Car buyers showed preference for compacts like Swift, Estilo and Ritz, whose sales soared 53.9 per cent to 26,394 units, while the mini-segment – comprising M800, Alto, A-Star and WagonR – saw a 7.5 per cent drop in sales to 29,068 units from 31,427 a year ago, the company said.

There was a 9.8 per cent growth in sales of popular compact sedan Dzire from 17,265 units to 18,953, but mid-sized sedan SX4 sold 75.9 per cent less at 121 units against 503 a year ago.

Sales of Maruti’s utility vehicles Gypsy, Grand Vitara and Ertiga rose 22 per cent to 5,253 units from 4,307. Vans — Omni and Eeco — were in demand with sales growing 50.2 per cent to 10,771 units. Exports grew 51.2 per cent to 10,365 units.

Hyundai Motor India, India’s second largest carmaker by sales, reported a 12.8 per cent increase in sales at 36,205 units. But exports declined 37.3 per cent to 15,513 units. “With a volume of 36,205 units, the growth was in line with this year’s objective of growing market share and volume,” said Rakesh Srivastava, senior sales and marketing vice-president at Hyundai Motor India.

Srivastava claimed the ‘phenomenal success’ of Xcent, Grand and Santa Fe increased volumes and created a positive momentum. “We expect to maintain the trend by strengthening our product portfolio and improving channel efficiencies,” Srivastava said.

Monthly domestic sales at Honda Cars India, a premium car manufacturer, grew 18 per cent to 13,362 units, which were attributed to the success of all-new Honda City and strong sales momentum for Honda Amaze. The company clocked an overall growth of 23 per cent during the April-May period with sales of 24,402 units.

“We have been receiving good response for Amaze and the all-new City cars. We will continue to do well in the respective segments,” said Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice-president for marketing and sales at Honda Cars India.

The company will soon enter the multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) segment with the planned launch of a mid-sized seven-seater Honda Mobilio.

Ford India claimed 51 per cent growth in sales at 6,053 vehicles, up from 4,002 cars last year. The company exported 6,235 vehicles, against 1,991 units in the year-ago period. Total sales, including exports, doubled to 12,288 units during the month.

“A stable government is positive for overall economic and business sentiment. We hope the new government will support the ongoing industry-friendly initiatives, like the excise duty cut, and look at further measures to improve consumer sentiments,” said Vinay Piparsania, executive director of marketing, sales and service at Ford India.

Piparsania is looking forward to the introduction of GST, rationalisation of taxes and more foreign investment to promote sustained growth of the economy and the automotive sector.

Domestic sales of Toyota Kirloskar Motor jumped 18 per cent to 11,833 units in May. The company exported 1,397 units of the Etios series last month.

“We have resumed normal production and registered growth in May. We launched Etios Cross and the all-new Corolla Altis last month,” N Raja, director and senior vice-president for sales and marketing at Toyota Kirloskar Motor, said. He claimed ‘very good response’ for the new launches. Toyota sold 555 units of Etios Cross and 548 units of Corolla Altis in May.

Tata Motors’ sales fell 17 per cent in May to 9,230 units from 11,134 a year ago. Sales of the Nano, Indica, the Indigo range slumped 22 per cent to 6,932 units from 8,927.

Tata’s Sumo, Safari, Aria, Venture range showed promise, growing 4 per cent to 2,298 units. It was the first growth for the segment since November 2012. In the commercial vehicles segment, Tata Motor’s domestic sales declined 27 per cent to 25,104 units.

Mahindra & Mahindra reported a 19 per cent drop in sales of passenger vehicles, including utility vehicles and the Verito, to 18,085 units. But exports soared 75 per cent to 2,370 units from 1,356 last year.

“Auto sales continued to be subdued for many players,” said Pravin Shah, chief executive, automotive division at Mahindra & Mahindra. He said the company expected improved sentiments to result in a better economic situation, which would lead to a gradual increase in demand.

Sales at General Motors India fell 43 per cent to 4,865 cars in May from 8,500 units sold last year. These included 1,716 units of Beat, 1,076 Tavera and 934 Chevrolet Enjoy.

“The industry has been passing through challenging times for the past two years, as the general economic and consumer sentiments have failed to pick up,” P Balendran, vice-president at General Motors India, said. He hoped to see some improvement in the coming months.


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