A month-long lockout at its two Manesar factories saw car-market leader Maruti Suzuki witness a 35% decline in sales in August as a five-fold jump for the world’s cheapest car Nano pushed Tata Motors’s sales up by around 33%.
Maruti sold 50,129 units last month, over a third less than the 77,086 it did in August 2011. The company had to announce a lockout at Manesar after the July 18 violence by workers, which left a senior HR manager dead and 96 executives injured.In stark contrast, Tata Motors recovered some lost ground, selling 22,311 units and protecting its turf as the country’s third largest passenger vehicle-maker.
Tata Motors’s growth was led largely by Nano, which saw 6,507 customers as against just 1,202 in August 2011. Second-placed Hyundai grew by nearly 6% to 28,257 units, highlighting the lukewarm demand for cars in a depressed market.
“The market continued to be sluggish, but our sales grew due to increased preference for diesel vehicles and niche consumer-focused promotions," said Rakesh Srivastava, vice president (national sales), Hyundai Motor India Limited.
“The overall market demand is suppressed due to the general inflationary trend, high fuel prices and interest rates. Unless there are major triggers (to reverse the trend), the market sentiment is not expected to improve much,” Srivastava said.
The only companies to see substantial growth were those with predominantly diesel vehicles, such as Toyota and Mahindra & Mahindra.
Most other major car-makers, such as General Motors (down 16.7%) and Honda (down 20.8%), struggled. None could capitalise on the supply issues at Maruti. Ford sales grew by 6.2%.
“This is a very negative month for the industry," said an auto analyst. "The lockout at Maruti meant nearly 40,000 units were for the taking for rivals. I don’t think anybody gained from it. The growth for others has come on the back of discounts and freebies.”