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It’s mid-summer sale in auto land

Rs 50,000, Rs 60,000, Rs 90,000... It’s time to sharpen your bargaining skills as car manufacturers rain discounts trying to get rid of excess stock. Sumant Banerji reports.

autos Updated: Jun 22, 2012 21:07 IST
Sumant Banerji
Sumant Banerji
Hindustan Times

No one is buying cars anymore. And car makers, having woken up to this a trifle late, find themselves holding excess stocks. So how do they get rid of it? Through discounts, and big ones at that.

With nearly 3 lakh cars unsold across the country, dealers are refusing to accept more stock, forcing companies to give discounts to clear them.

"It is like a repeat of what we witnessed in the second half of 2008 when the global crisis hit," said a senior Maruti Suzuki official. "Though there is hope that demand will turn around, the extent of discounts on offer is similar. It may even go up in July, which would also be very challenging."

Shop around, and you will surely hit upon a stellar deal or two. Maruti’s SX4, for instance, which hit a new low in sales last month with just 400-odd takers, is now on offer for Rs 70,000 less. Stablemates Zen Estilo and A-Star are riding discounts of nearly Rs 90,000 and Rs 60,000 respectively. They too saw two-year low sales in May, down to under 1,000 units.

The discount drama is not restricted to less popular cars. Bestsellers such as WagonR, Indica and Hyundai i10 are also sporting cuts. So are Honda Accord, Civic and even the BMW 3 series.

“The market continues to be tough as the sentiment is very negative,” said Arvind Saxena, director (marketing and sales), Hyundai Motor India Ltd. “Discounts have gone up over the last few months even as there is limited room. So long as the price differential between fuels remains high, discounts at least on petrol models would be high as they need to be pushed.”

The sales slowdown has spared no one. Even diesel models, and luxury car companies such as BMW, Mercedes and Audi are feeling the slowdown heat, perhaps for the first time in India.

“The market environment is tough. Almost all manufacturers have free availability of diesel vehicles, and the waiting lists for some have come down significantly,” said Michael Boneham, president and MD, Ford India. “In some cases, incentives are being doled out on diesel cars also.”

Bargain hard and smart, and the dealer would sweeten the deal even more. Excess stock is always a boon for consumers. If you have been dreaming cars, wake up. This may be the best time to buy.

First Published: Jun 22, 2012 20:24 IST