Automobile sales continue to move in the slow lane, here’s why

While the March 2021 numbers look robust for all auto companies, they come on the back of a low base seen in March 2020, when the auto sales had plummeted due to the start of the Covid-19 related lockdown.

By:Updated: Apr 02, 2021 8:59 AM

 

Automobile sales in India continue to be sluggish as all major automakers, barring Tata Motors, reported a double-digit decline in wholesale numbers for the full year ended March 31, 2021. While the March 2021 numbers look robust for all auto companies, they come on the back of a low base seen in March 2020, when the auto sales had plummeted due to the start of the Covid-19 related lockdown. According to Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest passenger vehicle manufacturer, the latest March numbers have only recovered to March 2019 levels, which makes recovery still elusive. Also, the fall in numbers for 2020-2021 — which was a tough year — comes over 2019-2020, which was again a bad year for the sector as the industry was preparing for the BS IV shift and demand was sluggish.

Maruti Suzuki sold 13.23 lakh units in FY21, which fell nearly 8% compared to a year ago. The full year numbers were about the same level as witnessed by the company five years ago in 2015-2016, when it reported sales of 13.09 lakh units. In March, however, the company sold 1,49,518 units, which was an increase of 94% on a year-on-year basis and in line with its traditional average monthly sales of 1.5 lakh units per month. On a month-on-month basis the company registered a minor growth of 1.3%.

Hyundai Motor India’s domestic wholesale numbers declined 24.5% during the year to 4.71 lakh units. However, in March, its sales doubled on a y-o-y basis with 52,600 units sold. On a m-o-m basis, the sales numbers remained flat. Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) recorded a fall of 25.5% in wholesale numbers for the year ended March 31, 2021, as it sold 3.33 lakh units during the year. However, after remaining sluggish for a while, its commercial vehicle business recorded good sales in March. Passenger vehicle sales witnessed a sharp four-fold jump in March as it recorded sales of 16,700 units. Increase in the commercial vehicle sales was sharper with sales of 21,577 units, a six-fold jump over March 2020.

Tractor sales at M&M continued to grow strongly and registered an increase of 17.4% for FY21 with 3.54 lakh units sold during the year. In March, tractor sales more than doubled on a y-o-y basis to 29,817 units. Vehicle sales for Toyota Kirloskar Motors declined 10% in FY21 to 93,312 units, while in March, the company doubled its sales to 15,001 units on a y-o-y basis. Tata Motors is the only company that has bucked the trend in passenger vehicle sales for the full year. The company sold 2.22 lakh units in FY21, a sharp increase of 70% compared to FY20. In March too, the PV business had a good run with 29,564 units sold — a near five-fold jump.

The year remained tough for the commercial vehicle segment, with both Ashok Leyland and Tata Motors recording a decline of 20% and 22%, respectively in sales in FY21. However, March proved to be a good month for both companies with Ashok Leyland registering an eight-fold increase in sales on a y-o-y basis at 15,761 units. Tata Motors’ commercial vehicle segment recorded a six-fold increase on a y-o-y basis as it sold 36,955 units in March.

Two-wheeler sales also remained sluggish in FY21. Hero MotoCorp registered a decline of 10% in wholesale numbers during the year and sold nearly 56 lakh units. However, like with the rest of the auto industry, March saw an increase of 72% y-o-y with sales of 5.44 lakh units.

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