Weak consumer demand continued to drag car sales in April with car-manufacturers including Maruti Suzuki India, Mahindra & Mahindra, Toyota-Kirloskar Motor and General Motors India, registering a decline in domestic business. It's been eight months of decline-to-negligible sales growth as it was in August 2013 when the industry last witnessed double-digit growth rate of 15.4%.
Market leader Maruti Suzuki India saw April (domestic) sales head south by 12.6% to 79,119 units as against the same period of the previous year. Making the dent to business were its mini cars viz M800, Alto, A-Star and WagonR wherein sales were down 25.4% to 26,043 units. Adding to the turmoil were declining sales of its compact sedan Dzire by 17.7% to 16,008 units and utility vehicles Gypsy, Grand Vitara and Ertiga by 5.8% to 5,011 units during the period under review.
Coming to the rescue however, were MSI's compact cars in the premium category viz. Swift, Estilo, Ritz that saw demand increase by 9.9% to 23,659 units. Increase in exports by 4.4% to 7,077 units over year also came as a relief to the country's largest car maker.
For Mahindra & Mahindra, the situation wasn't any better with domestic sales for April coming down 14.5% to 34,107 units. However, exports were up 41.6% on year to 2,167 units indicating that the company is aggressively pursuing international markets thus compensating for the subdued demand scenario in India.
Losing business, both on the domestic and exports front, Toyota-Kirloskar Motor saw sales decline by 16% and 47.1% to 7,562 and 766 units respectively. Having faced with labour unrest at its Bangalore facility, the company said it has resumed normal production from April 22.
Suffering the most in the pack was General Motors with a 35.3% decline in sales to 5,302 units over the corresponding month last year. "Customer sentiment continues to remain negative even with price reduction on account of excise duty cut and other market promotion schemes," said P Balendran, vice president, General Motors India.
Going by the market scenario, the company expects the challenging times to continue as the general economic conditions remain depressed. "The buoyancy in the market is completely missing and we don't see any upturn before the new government assumes office," said Balendran.
Though scoring on the domestic demand, Korean car maker Hyundai Motor saw sales increase by 8.8% to 35,248 units in April, it faltered big time on exports that fell 39% to 14,974 units over last year.
According to Rakesh Srivastava, senior vice-president - sales and marketing, Hyundai Motor, the domestic volume growth was in line with this year's objective of growth in volume and market share.
"Growth is led by sedan and utility vehicles across geographies, with new products Xcent, Grand and Santa Fe adding volumes with an overwhelming response from customers," he said.
Similarly, Honda Cars India posted a 30% increase in domestic sales at 11,040 units in April, riding on the success of its premium sedan City. The company sold 7,044 units of the car in April.
Ford India also posted 66.15% increase on year in domestic sales that stood at 6,651 units. "Despite on-going business challenges faced by Indian automotive industry, Ford India sales have held steady in April," said Vinay Piparsania, executive director - marketing, sales and service, Ford India.
In the run up to the formation of the next government, Piparsania added, the company remains cautious and watchful in anticipation of progressive policy interventions to energise the Indian automotive sector.
In the two-wheeler segment, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India posted 20.92% rise in sales at 3,13,942 units last month. Yamaha Motor India posted a 42.39% increase in domestic sales at 51,158 units in April.
—With inputs from PTI