Sales of automobiles in February continued to maintain their strong momentum, driven by growth in rural sales and strong demand for new models launched in the market. Be it passenger vehicles (PVs), commercial vehicles (CVs) or two-wheelers, every segment witnessed double-digit growth in the month compared to the same period last year. Sales in the PV segment grew 11% in February, based on volumes of the top six carmakers that account for more than 90% of the PV market. This was despite the impact on retail demand in the month due to the inauspicious days of Holashtak, which is the seven days that come before Holi, when buyers generally avoid purchases, said analysts at Motilal Oswal. The largest PV maker, Maruti Suzuki, said its sales grew 14% in the month on strong demand for its compact cars and SUVs. Sales of its Swift, Dzire and Baleno models grew by 39% in the month, while volumes of its utility vehicles Ertiga and Vitara Brezza grew 14%.
Mahindra & Mahindra’s (M&M) automotive business posted strong growth in PVs as well as CVs. PV sales rose by 8% in the month while CV sales jumped 28%. The company is confident that this momentum will continue. Rajan Wadhera, president, automotive sector, M&M, said, “This performance comes on the back of a sustained momentum and demand, both in the personal and commercial vehicle segments, which we believe will also continue in the month of March.”
CV sales showed strong traction in February, as demand continued to be buoyed by overloading restrictions in some states and rising infrastructure and mining activity. CV manufacturers have complained of supply constraints that have been keeping them from rapidly scaling up production to meet the rising demand.
Tata Motors witnessed a sharp 36% growth in total CV sales (including light commercial vehicles) in February, and a 25% growth in sales of medium and heavy CVs (M&HCV) in the month. The company attributes the high growth in the M&HCV segment to robust infrastructure development, fresh tenders for car carriers and greater demand for carriers of coal and petroleum.
Girish Wagh, president, commercial vehicles business unit, Tata Motors, said, “The intermediate and light commercial vehicle segment performed strongly, witnessing a 54% growth driven by rising demand from e-commerce and logistics sectors. The CV passenger segment is witnessing an uptake of 16%, owing to an increase in demand for school buses.”
Meanwhile, close rival Ashok Leyland said its M&HCV sales rose 21% in the month to 13,726 units. Its total CV sales rose by 29% to 18,181 units in the month. Two-wheeler makers also enjoyed a good February with sales growing 22% for the five largest players accounting for over 90% of sales. Sales for the segment had declined 1% in February last year on the lingering impact of demonetisation.
Hero MotoCorp, the leader, saw sales grow 20% even as close rival Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India notched up 22% higher sales. Bajaj Auto grew faster 25%, thanks to new launches in the Discover and Avenger ranges. Southern majors Royal Enfield and TVS Motor recorded stronger-than-industry growth rates of 25% and 36%, respectively.