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Crisis looms: Car sales see sharpest decline in 8 years

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New Delhi | Updated: May 14, 2019 7:15:09 AM

The last time PV sales dipped significantly was in October 2011-12 (19.87% y-o-y), according to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam).

This was the 10th consecutive month when depatches remained subdued owing to high inventory.

Passenger vehicle (PV) sales in the domestic market declined 17% year-on-year (y-o-y) in April, the sharpest monthly decline in eight years, as dealers did not take more stock owing to poor demand and higher inventory pile-up from the previous months.

The last time PV sales dipped significantly was in October 2011-12 (19.87% y-o-y), according to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam).

Analysts said higher insurance premium and lack of finance availability continue to impact demand. Besides, the weakness in volumes will continue until the general elections are over as consumers tend to hold major discretionary purchases, they said.

This was the 10th consecutive month when depatches remained subdued owing to high inventory.

According to the Siam data, 14 out of 15 carmakers reported a decline in domestic sales, with top five, including Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai, dragging down the numbers significantly in April. Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai reported 19% and 10% y-o-y dip in domestic volumes, respectively.

Siam director-general Vishnu Mathur said customers are holding all their discretionary purchases as the sentiments are low. “Production cuts by companies are being spread out over a period of time to correct inventories, which is reflected in the numbers,” Mathur said.

Further, for the first time in at least 10 years, all the auto segments, including two-wheelers and commercial vehicles, were in red. Two-wheeler demand remained lacklustre for the sixth consecutive month in April, falling 16.36% y-o-y, dragged down by steep decline reported by companies, including Hero MotoCorp and Honda Motorcycle.

Analysts said purchase deferrals due to elections and high inventory with dealers led to weakness in wholesales volumes. Besides, price hikes due to new safety norms from April 1 weakened demand. “We expect the industry to remain weak in the near-term on account of high and rising cost pressure by price hike due to safety norms,” analysts at Nomura wrote.

Siam deputy director-general Sugato Sen said the first month of the new financial year has not turned out to be very good. “In the last 10 years, we have not seen anything like this when all the segments are down,” he said.

Despatches of commercial vehicles (CVs) dealers also fell 6% y-o-y in April, with the management of major companies attributing the slowdown in demand to ongoing general elections and halt in several infrastructure projects. “The industry is yet to recover from the revised axle load norms while the postponement of demand due to general elections have also dragged down CV sales,” said Tata Motors’ CV business president Girish Wagh.

The government last year hiked the loading limit for CVs, as a result of which fleet operators got more bandwidth to load goods and new purchases are getting postponed. Analysts at Nomura said relaxation in load axle norms continues to impact demand despite healthy traction in the tipper segment.

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