Slowdown, inflationary pressures affect automobile sales (Roundup)

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 01, 2013 13:50 hrs

New Delhi/Chennai, Mar 1 (IANS) High interest rates and rising fuel prices resulted in lower sales for India's auto industry in February.

Passenger car major Maruti Suzuki logged 7.9 percent lower sales in February as compared to the corresponding month of 2012. The company sold 109,567 units last month from 118,949 units in February 2012.

The domestic sales of the passenger car major fell by nine percent at 97,955 units from an offtake of 107,653 units.

However, exports grew by 2.8 percent at 11,612 units from 11,296 units shipped out in February, 2012.

Chennai-based automobile major Hyundai Motor reported a domestic sales of 34,002 units, down 7.6 percent from 36,805 units.

However, Hyundai's exports increased by 37.2 percent which stood at 20,663 units from 15,050 units shipped out during the corresponding month of last year.

The total sales grew by 5.4 percent at 54,665 units from 51,855 units sold in February, 2012.

"The market was suppressed as there was drop in enquiries with lower rates of conversions to purchase. The increase in fuel prices negatively impacted the already low market sentiments," Rakesh Srivastava, vice president, sales and marketing,t Hyundai Motor India said in a statement.

However, leading sports utility vehicle (SUV) manufacturer Mahindra and Mahindra reported a healthy 11 percent sales growth with 47,824 units.

Sales were 43,087 units in the corresponding period last year.

According to the company, domestic sales increased by 10 percent and stood at 44,399 units from 40,461 units.

Exports rose by 30 percent at 3,425 units from 2,626 units shipped out in the corresponding month last year.

The company voiced its disappointment with Finance Minister P.Chidambaram's budget proposal to raise excise duty on SUVs from 27 to 30 percent. However, SUVs registered as taxis are exempted from the duty.

"Levying a three percent higher duty on SUVs on the basis of higher ground clearance is disappointing as it slows down further growth and does not provide equal competitive space to all players," said Pravin Shah, chief executive, automotive division, Mahindra & Mahindra.

Even Japanesses car manufacturer Toyota's Indian subsidiary raised objections to the proposed levy on the SUVs.

"The market continues to remain sluggish and with the additional excise duty levied on SUVs and UVs (utilty vehicles), the market will be further impacted," said Sandeep Singh, deputy managing director and chief operating offier, marketing and commercial, Toyota-Kirloskar Motors.

The company's domestic market sales dropped from 12,756 units to 16,659 units, down by 23.4 percent.

In terms of two-three wheeler segment, TVS Motor closed last month with lower sales at 165,696 units against 172,061 units.

However the company's total exports during February, 2013 grew by 22 percent from 17,960 units in February, 2012 to 21,896 units.

Meanwhile, two-wheeler major Honda Motorcycle and Scooter reported an 11 percent rise in sales at 228,444 units from 206,043 units. The company said its domestic market share stood at 19 percent.

The world's largest two-wheeler manufacturer Hero MotoCorp registered sales of 501,271 unit in February - its fifth consecutive month of five lakh-plus sales since October 2012.

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