India’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki, saw monthly sales rise for the first time this fiscal year in July, helped by a small base from last year, but there was precious little to cheer for the domestic auto industry reeling under frequent fuel price hikes and a sluggish economy.
Maruti's sales grew by 5.8% last month, but it had already warned last week it did not foresee a turnaround soon. Last year in the same month, a violent labour strike at its Manesar factory had forced Maruti to close the plant for over a month.
All other carmakers — Hyundai, Tata, Mahindra & Mahindra, Toyota, GM and Volkswagen — registered a decline in sales over the previous year. High discounts and promotional schemes do not seem to be helping either.
Among two-wheelers, Yamaha logged a surprising 57% sales growth, and Honda 20%. Market leader Hero saw flat sales growth, while TVS’s growth slid 7%.
“Volumes are under pressure despite attractive consumer promotion,” said Rakesh Srivastava of HMIL “The frequent hike in fuel price has further increased the challenge.”
The only three companies to duck the trend were Honda Cars, Ford and Renault India, which were helped by the launch of Amaze sedan, EcoSport and Duster respectively.
“The Amaze has clocked its highest monthly sales and is maintaining very good growth momentum,” said Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice-president, Honda Cars India Ltd. “We plan to start a third shift from November to reduce the waiting period.”