Wholesale volumes, however, remained under pressure with the top five car makers reporting negative or flat sales growth in January, partly due to inventory pile-up at dealers from the festive months.
Retail passenger vehicle sales grew 34% month-on-month (m-o-m) in January, fuelled by the massive year-end discounts on 2018-manufactured cars and new launches by Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and Nissan India, according to the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA).
Wholesale volumes, however, remained under pressure with the top five car makers reporting negative or flat sales growth in January, partly due to inventory pile-up at dealers from the festive months. Wholesale volumes of Maruti Suzuki grew at a marginal 0.2% year-on-year (y-o-y) in January, while Hyundai India’s volumes grew by just 0.6% y-o-y. Tata Motors’ wholesale sales fell 11% y-o-y and Mahindra posted a marginal 0.79 % y-o-y growth last month.
As per FADA, passenger vehicles retail sales stood at 271,395 units last month against 202,585 units in December. The data is based on vehicle registration collated from 1,081 out of 1,437 regional transport offices (RTOs). The numbers were in line with analysts’ expectations, who had hinted that retail sales had picked up from the last fortnight of December. “Our channel checks suggest that retail sales have been better than expected,” analysts at Nomura had said.
“Overall positivity compared to the previous months backed by good retail offerings has helped car sales,” said FADA president Ashish Harsharaj Kale. Two-wheeler retail volumes rose just 4.25% m-o-m in January as an increase in insurance premium and costlier credit continue to keep buyers away from purchase, causing inventory levels to remain at a high of 55-60 days. Registrations last month stood at 11,89,679 units against 11,41,209 in December, FADA said.
In a post-earnings conference call, Hero MotoCorp CFO Niranjan Gupta told analysts, “Poor rural demand and a subdued festive season are the reasons for the pile-up”. Wholesale volumes too remained lacklustre with Hero MotoCorp reporting a 9.15% y-o-y decline in sales. While at Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India’s (HMSI), sales fell 18% y-o-y, TVS Motors volumes grew at a marginal 0.7% y-o-y.
Retail sales of commercial vehicles remained sluggish too, with flat volumes at 53,732 units in January, primarily hit by poor credit availability and lagged effect of the new axle-load norms. Wholesale volumes in the commercial vehicle segment was a mixed bag last month, with Tata Motors being the worst hit. Sales dipped 6% y-o-y. Ashok Leyland’s volumes grew 12% y-o-y while M&M posted a sales growth of 8% y-o-y.