Domestic car sales registered their worst decline in over a decade with a steep 25.7% fall in February over last year, as customers chose to wait, rather than advance their purchasing decisions before the Budget presented on February 28.
The fall, the worst since December 2000 when sales had slid by nearly 40%, did not spare anybody with all major car makers suffering losses. Sales fell to 158,513 units in February 2013 against 213,362 units a year-ago.
With the Budget imposing more taxes on utility vehicles - the only segment to post robust sales this year - and just a month left for the fiscal year to end, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers forecast annual sales would shrink for the first time since 2002-03.
Sales have contracted by 4.64% in the current fiscal year so far.
"A weak economy, high inflation and high finance costs mean people at the bottom of the pyramid who buy smaller cars, which are the biggest part of the market, are not buying," said Sugato Sen, deputy director-general, SIAM. "If people don't need a car, they are holding back."
Tata Motors fared the worst with an over 50% decline in sales to under 20,000 units, while Maruti and Hyundai registered a decline of 9% and 8% respectively. Other heavy losers included Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Nissan and Skoda. The sole exception was Mahindra and Mahindra, which managed to grow by 12%.
Nano was one of the worst performers during the month with an 84% decline in sales to 1,505 units. It had stablemates Indica and Indigo for company, both registering a decline of 61.8% and 73.4% respectively. For the first time in years, Tata did not have an entry in the list of top 10 best-selling cars in a month. Ford Figo and Chevrolet Beat also had a torrid month with their individual sales sliding by 42% and 51% respectively.
Cars that performed well in a depressed market included Maruti Dzire (up 21.6%), Mahindra Bolero (up 14%) and Hyundai i20 (up 57%). The Dzire, Maruti's entry-level sedan, logged its highest ever sales tally in a month.