This Diwali was keenly awaited as a cure for all ills plaguing the automobile industry this year. It has been anything but that, if sales are any indication.
Barring a few companies like Hyundai Motors, Hero Honda and Maruti Suzuki, almost all manufacturers have had a below-par festive sales during both Navratri and Diwali. Most are sitting on inventories. Prominent dealers in Delhi and Mumbai witnessed lower sales than last year with Tata Motors, GM, Ford and Bajaj Auto emerging as the biggest losers.
“We were hoping to see a reversal in October but sales have been below our expectations,” said an executive at GM dealer Triumph Motors. “We were betting big on Dhanteras. Though there has been a spurt compared to the rest of the year, it is still lower than last year’s.”
Price cuts, attractive finance options, free insurance and registration do not seem to have cut ice with customers. The one cure that might have worked — an interest rate cut —has not happened. Reserve Bank's signal rate cut last week has not led to any retail results.
“Demand is down by atleast 25 per cent,” said a Harpreet Ford executive. “We still have people enquiring and test driving our cars but then they are deferring their purchases at the last moment in the hope of a interest cut.”
Some have been able to keep their head out of the water. While new launches like Corolla Altis and i10 continues to see demand for Hyundai and Toyota, focussed marketing has done the trick for Maruti and Hero Honda.
But the numbers are not serious. Maruti and Hyundai’s schemes for government employees who have received arrears from the 6th pay commission has helped only to a limited extent.