In sharp contrast to the expectations, consumers bought cars and two-wheelers in huge numbers on Dhanteras, two days ahead of Diwali, which is considered the most auspicious day in the Hindu calendar.
Manufacturers including Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor India, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) and Hero MotoCorp saw high demand from customers asking for delivery during the day, so much so that many showrooms remained open the entire night before Dhanteras and others started delivering since 7 in the morning till 11 at night.
Hyundai Motor India sold 12,500 units during the day, which is around 30% of the company’s average monthly sales. While Maruti Suzuki did not share the numbers, dealers said they sold atleast 20-30% more compared to last year. Typically, Maruti sells around 65,000 cars in the festive period between Dusshera and Diwali but this year over 40,000 cars alone were sold on Dhanteras.
Vikas Jain, national sales head for Hyundai Motor India, said demand for cars in the utility segment such as for the Creta and Venue is the highest. “Consumers this time did not prefer small cars as much as they showed interest in bigger cars,” Jain told FE.
While M&M delivered close to 13,500 unit on Dhanteras, new entrants Kia Motors and MG Motors delivered 2,184 units of SUV Seltos and 700 units of Hector, respectively.
Mercedes Benz sold 600 units across the country, which would be around 20% of its total average monthly sales, out of which a record over 250 units were handed over to owners in Delhi NCR alone.
Shashank Srivastava, executive director, marketing & sales at Maruti Suzuki, said this year Navratra to Dhanteras sales for Maruti was slightly better by about 7-8% compared to last year but agreed that it is on a low base.
Dealers of Hero MotoCorp and Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) said the number of units they sold on Dhanteras was more than total sales in the last one week. “We delivered close to 250 units in a single day against around 190 sold in Dhanteras last year,” an HMSI dealer said.
Although sales picked up at the end of this year’s festival season, the numbers would still remain subdued given that demand did not pick up during most of the festive period starting from Onam in early September.
RC Bhargava, chairman at Maruti Suzuki India, earlier said the company’s sales in October will be similar to last year. “But that does not mean we are out of the woods yet just because monthly sales improved,” Bhargava said.
Overall, during the 42-day festival period between the onset of Onam and Diwali, sales were down by an estimated 20%, if compared to a usual festive season and not the same period in 2018, due to the low base as sales during the same period in 2018 was lowest in six years. Experts believe sales numbers could be below or at similar levels of last year’s festive season.
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