The Indian car market remained buoyant in January even as higher prices on account of the withdrawal of excise duty concessions failed to dissuade customers from making purchases and major automakers benefitted from declining fuel prices and softening interest rates, which are likely to propel the market in the new year.
Market leader Maruti Suzuki, South Korea’s Hyundai, Honda Car India, Tata MotorsBSE 1.65 % and Toyota posted better sales last month compared with a year earlier. Strong demand for petrol models – as the lifting of government control on diesel prices narrowed difference between the two fuels – and new models helped boost demand.
Maruti SuzukiBSE -1.69 % said domestic sales grew 9 per cent to 1,05,559 units from 96,569 units sold in January 2014. The push came from launch of the Ciaz and DZire Tour, which is sold primarily to taxi operators. Its compact segment comprising of Swift, Estilo, Ritz and Dzire, which forms the largest chunk of sales, rose 7.5 per cent to 45,881 units.
Growth in January sales on regular rates of excise has instilled confidence in the domestic market. The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers has forecast the car market will grow at 6-8 per cent in 2015-16, the most in five years.
Hyundai sold 34,780 units in the domestic market, an increase of 4 per cent. Growth was built on the momentum of new models such as the Elite i20 hatchback and strong demand for the Eon compact car, a top company executive said.
“The new model helped to maintain traction and positive sales on the back of rising cost of ownership on account of increase in excise duties from the new year. To attract customers, there is a need to reduce the interest rates on auto finance as well as rationalise the overall taxes levied on the car industry for a sustained growth in the Indian market,” Hyundai senior vice president (marketing & sales) Rakesh Srivastava said.
Honda Cars India posted its highest monthly sales in this financial year with 18,331 units sold, up 17 per cent from 15,714 units a year earlier.
Tata Motors, once the third-largest carmaker in India and now in fifth spot, recorded a 19 per cent jump in sales to 13,047 units, led by strong demand for the compact sedan Zest and a fairly good response to the new Bolt hatchback, which competes with the Maruti Swift and Volkswagen Polo.
Toyota Kirloskar Motor sales grew 16 per cent to 12,650 units, helped by a refreshed product line. “This 16 per cent growth comes with the launch of the new Innova and allnew Fortuner 4X4 automatic in January,” said N Raja, senior vicepresident for sales and marketing at Toyota Kirloskar.
Some companies continued to post sluggish sales. Utility vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra’s passenger car sales dipped 5 per cent to 18,804 vehicles. Ford India posted sales of 6,647 vehicles against 6,706 units sold in January last year. The company posted a steeper 39 per cent decline in exports to 2,414 cars.
Source: Economic Times