Mototown fogged out ahead of its biggest carnival

India’s car and two-wheeler makers, pumping up the adrenalin for motor enthusiasts this week, are facing a fogged-out start to the new year, with sales plummeting to new depths.

What’s worse, despite the brouhaha building up around the auto expo, the future looks dark, with interest rates on car loans set to rise in the wake of continued belt-tightening by the central bank.

Sales of all major players such as Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor India, Tata Motors and Mahindra and Mahindra took a beating in January, with all of them selling less than what they sold this time last year. Ford India and Honda Cars were the only two significant players to record healthy growth, riding mainly on the success of new launches. Two-wheeler makers Yamaha Motors and TVS Motor posted single-digit growth last month.

India’s biggest carmaker by sales, Maruti Suzuki, said it sold 6.3 per cent fewer cars this January at 96,569 units compared with 103,026 units sold in January 2013.

The second-biggest carmaker Hyundai Motor sold 2.6 per cent less at 33,405 units in January against 34,302 units last January.

Tata Motors, the country’s biggest automobile company that makes every kind of four-wheel vehicle from the awkward Nano to the elegant Jaguar, and dozens of models of goods carriers, took a major hit with its total commercial and passenger vehicles sales dropping 34 per cent to 40,481 units in January.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor, subsidiary of the world’s largest carmaker by sales, sold 10,910 fewer units in January compared with 13,329 units in the same month last year, recording a fall of 18.14 per cent.

“The market continues to be sluggish and sentiments remain low,” N Raja, senior veep, sales and marketing, at Toyota Kirloskar Motor told Financial Chronicle. Still, the company will be unveiling the all new Corolla Altis and Etios Cross at the show.

Mahindra & Mahindra saw erosion of over a quarter of the numbers it sold in January 2013 with sales down at 19,792 units from 26,555 units same time last year.

“The first month of 2014 did not witness any improvement in the overall industry performance and the situation remains subdued,” Pravin Shah, chief executive at

M&M’s automotive division said.

He said in coming months the recent repo rate hike would escalate the rate of interest on car loans impacting consumer sentiment. “We hope the expo, which will showcase new products and

technology, will trigger a much-needed boost to the auto industry and

overall sentiment,” he said.

In this bleak scenario, both local and global automakers will be showcasing jaw-dropping car models at the 12th Auto Expo this week, where organisers expect up to 100,000 footfalls a day between February 7 and 11 when you and I get to visit the fair at the Greater Noida Expo Centre.

To make that happen, carmakers are going

to town from this morning announcing a slew of new launches every day. Both homegrown and foreign auto majors will unveil

70 new vehicles, out

of which 26 will be global unveilings and 15 of them, cars, to build a feel-

good hype.

Even then, it’s anybody guess if the expo will

lift corporate bottomlines any time soon, even

if it ratchets up sentiments and adds colour to

Delhi’s winter sunshine.

The only silver lining against a dark and foreboding highway this

season came from

Honda Cars. Its sales multiplied threefold in January at 15,714 units,

driven primarily on the success of the new City and Amaze.

Even sales at Ford India rose 10.62 per cent

at 6,706 units from

6,062 units in the same month last year. Its

popular crossover EcoSport has helped grow business.

“Ford has ushered in the New Year on a note of growth and commitment,” Vinay Piparsania, executive director of marketing, sales and service at Ford India, said.

Meanwhile, sales at two-wheeler maker Yamaha Motor India increased 6.5 per cent to 31,721 units last month.

TVS Motor too grew sales to 156,138 units

in January from 154,107 units in the year-ago

period. Figures for Hero MotoCorp, Honda Motorcycle and Scooters India and Bajaj Auto were not available.

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