Passenger vehicle sales remain subdued in Jan

Passenger vehicle sales in January continued to remain tepid with top six carmakers reporting flat and decline in sales. Prospective buyers put off their decision to buy cars due to rise in cost of ownership.

Higher insurance cost, liquidity crunch and price hikes by automakers in the range of 1-5 per cent across models from January 1 kept prospective customers away from the showrooms.

Sales at dominant market leader Maruti Suzuk remained flat last month selling 1,39,440 units as against 1,39,189 units it had sold last year.

Sales of compact cars like the Swift, Celerio, Ignis, Baleno and the Dzire also dipped by 3.50 per cent to 65,523 units from 67,868 units.

Sales at Hyundai, were also flat at 45,803 units compared with 45,508 units sold last year.

Sales at Mahindra & Mahindra, the utility vehicle specialist, also reported flat sales at 23,872 units as against 23,686 units sold last year. “There is buoyancy in rural growth, commodity costs are levelling, fuel prices are coming down and we see improvement in forex movement, which in turn will drive positive customer sentiment,” Rajan Wadhera, president, automotive sector at M&M, said.

However sales at Honda Cars India rose 23 per cent at 18,261 cars bringing cheer to the industry, up from 14,838 units it sold in January 2018.

Sales at Tata Motors fell 11 per cent at 17,826 units, down from 20,055 units sold last year despite newly launched Harrier SUV receiving good response. “January 2019 has been a rather sluggish period for the entire auto industry and has resulted in muted consumer sentiment,” Mayank Pareek, president, passenger vehicles at Tata Motors, said.

Sales at Toyota Kirloskar Motor also dropped by 9.14 per cent at 11,221 units in January as against 12,351 units sold last year.

The tightening of vehicle financing availability has also added to the challenges in the market.