For those shying away from driving home their dream vehicles, this may be the right time to go for it. Automobile manufacturers are offering freebies, ranging from gold coins and LED televisions to record discounts, to push petrol vehicle sales.
While the country's largest passenger car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), has lined up discounts of Rs 20,000-25,000, including offers on its best-sellers Alto and WagonR, General Motors and Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) are offering free maintenance and insurance services, respectively. Honda Siel has drawn up attractive financing schemes to drive sales of its small car Brio.
"Discounts on petrol cars are at a record high in the industry this year, due to slow sales of the fuel variant. We are also working on strengthening our product offering with cars such as the Ertiga and on boosting sales in rural markets to drive up petrol car sales," said Mayank Pareek, managing executive officer (sales and marketing), MSIL.
In case of models which have both petrol and diesel variants, MSIL records 40 per cent sales from petrol variants in rural markets, compared to 15 per cent in urban markets. Pareek said MSIL was seeing good off-take of petrol variants of hatchback Swift and sedan DZire. Promotional schemes are being offered on the Alto, WagonR, A-Star and Estilo. None of these models is available in diesel fuel option.
Petrol prices have risen five times over the last year. The differential between the two fuels stands at Rs 25.51 a litre, up from Rs 10 in April 2010, prompting an increasing number of consumers to opt for diesel cars. Industry estimates suggest diesel vehicle sales grew 35 per cent last financial year to account for more than 47 per cent of the overall passenger vehicle sales. Petrol car sales dropped by 15 per cent.
R C Bhargava, MSIL chairman, had earlier told Business standard, "In the current year, we are trying to bring down this decline to six per cent at Maruti Suzuki, but still, we'll be selling about 50,000 petrol cars less. We have 40 per cent of our petrol engine capacity lying idle at the Gurgaon unit."
To beat the slowdown, the country's second-largest car maker, Hyundai Motor India Ltd, is offering exchange royalty of Rs 10,000 on the Eon. While discounts range upwards of Rs 15,000 on the Santro and Accent, freebies such as LED television sets are also being offered at the dealer's end on some products. A company spokesperson said, "There are promotional offers on petrol variants, but these are region-specific."
Toyota is taking initiatives to educate customers regarding the usage of diesel cars. "We are taking initiatives to educate customers that the advantage of owning a diesel vehicle kicks in only if you drive up to 1,500 km a month. We register 30 per cent of overall volumes from sale of petrol vehicles," said Sandeep Singh, deputy managing director, TKM.
TKM is offering free insurance on petrol variants of sedans Etios and Corolla Altis, valued at one per cent of the prices of the vehicles.