Car sales contract after a decade, drop 7 pc in FY'13

Passenger car sales in country fell 6.7 percent in the year ended March 31, the first time in a decade, owing to high interest and fuel costs and dampened consumer sentiment, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said Wednesday.

The automobile segment may post only a three-five percent growth in the current fiscal, it said.

Last year, SIAM predicted a 9-11 percent increase in sales for 2012-13, but had to reduce it three times and projected a figure between one-nil levels of growth in sales in January.

The latest data revealed a fall of 22.51 percent last month and an annual decline of 6.7 percent in car sales which stood at 18,95,471 units from 20,31,306 units in the previous fiscal. The off-take of commercial vehicles declined by 2.02 percent. The total passenger vehicle sales in the last fiscal increased by 2.15 percent.

For 2013-14, SIAM projected a growth of 11-13 percent in utility vehicles sales, while off-take of vans may stand at four-six percent higher than a year before. Total passenger vehicle sales is projected to increase by five-seven percent in the current fiscal.

In terms of commercial vehicle sales, the industry association indicated an increase of seven-nine percent in 2013-14. Light commercial vehicle (LCV) off-take is projected at 10-12 percent, while, sales of medium and heavy vehicle may stand at one-three percent. Bus sales may grow by six-eight percent in the current fiscal.

The two-wheeler sales, which were dampened in the latter half of 2012-13, may register a healthy growth of six-eight percent, while that of three-wheeler sales may rise by three-five percent.

The overall automobile sales, according to SIAM, may grow by six-eight percent in 2013-14.

For March 2012, the data furnished by SIAM showed a decline of 22.51 percent in passenger car sales, as only 180,675 units were sold in the last month from 233,151 units sold in March, 2012.

The sales' of domestic passenger car segment had fallen around 26 percent in February - the steepest fall in 12 years, indicating a bearish sentiment in the first time buyers category.

Two-wheeler sales declined by 6.96 percent percent at 1,101,058 units units from 1,183,425 units sold in the same period of 2012. Motorcycle sales in March fell by 8.32 percent and stood at 779,878 units from 850,637 units sold during the corresponding month of last year.

However, SIAM reported an increase of 2.95 percent in three-wheeler sales, which stood at 43,529 units from 42,281 sold in corresponding month last year.

Sales of commercial vehicles, a key indicator of economic activity, slumped by 6.04 percent at 84,956 units in March, 2013 from 790,416 sold during the corresponding month of 2012.

Total exports for the month went up 2.63 percent at 230,282 units being shipped out from 224,388 units sold abroad in March, last year.

Total domestic sales across categories in March, however, declined 7.76 percent at 1,486,522 units from 1,611,525 units sold in the corresponding month of last year.