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Maruti drags down February car sales

Pune: Passenger vehicle (PV) sales in February were dragged down as sales at Maruti Suzuki, India’s bellwether of the passenger vehicle segment, remained flat for six months in a row.

However, with retail demand picking up, coupled up with buoyancy from new model launches, helped some carmakers report double-digit growth last month.

 

Last month also saw price hikes made by most car makers leading to sustained weakness in consumer sentiments.

Ashish Modani, assistant vice president, corporate sector ratings at ICRA said the passenger vehicles sales remained muted in February. “Given high discounts and several new launches in the recent months, there are some signs of recovery at dealership level,” he said.

However, full recovery is still sometime away, he pointed out. With the country entering into election phase during Q1 FY2020, consumer sentiments would continue to remain cautious in the near-term, which would weigh on the PV demand.

Sales at Maruti Suzuki, which sells one car out of two bought in the country, were flat at 0.2 per cent, selling 136,912 units against 136,648 units sold in February last year.

Maruti’s entry-level duo, Alto and the Wagon R, posted a significant slump of 26.7 per cent, with sales of 24,751 units in the month as against 33,789 units sold last year.

Hyundai Motor, India’s second biggest car maker, did not share its sales numbers till press time.

However, sales at Mahindra jumped 17 per cent at 26,109 units last month (22,389 units) primarily on the newly launched compact XUV300 SUV. Rajan Wadhera, president, Automotive Sector at M&M said, “We have witnessed a strong double-digit growth of 16 per cent in our UV (utility vehicle) portfolio, on the back of our newly launched XUV300 model.”

Sales at Tata Motors, India’s biggest automaker by revenues, also increased by 2 per cent at 18,110 units, as compared with 17,771 units sold last year on the back of good demand for its new generation vehicles.

“In February 2019, we have strived to maintain our growth trajectory at a time when the market is under stress,” Mayank Pareek, president, passenger vehicles, Tata Motors, said. He said the UV portfolio has grown 26 per cent during the month.

Sales at Honda Cars India rose 16 per cent at 13,527 units in February against 11,650 units last year. “Our on-ground efforts and sustained sales momentum for models, specially the Amaze, City and WR-V has fuelled our growth in February,” Rajesh Goel, senior vice president and director, sales & marketing at Honda Cars India, said.

The overall market sentiment is not overtly buoyant at this stage, he pointed out, hoping the market to revive soon.

But sales at Toyota Kirloskar Motor dropped by 1 per cent at 11,760 units as against 11,864 units sold last year. “We have seen improvement in consumer sentiments as compared to last month, leading to a growth in demand. However, the auto sales is witnessing a temporary slowdown in the pre- election phase in addition to factors like tight liquidity condition impacting the buying behaviour,” N. Raja, deputy managing director at Toyota Kirloskar Motor, said.

However, its popular Innova Crysta model continues to maintain the positive growth momentum in sales as compared to the same period last year, he pointed out.