Mixed performance of automobile sector in September

New Delhi, Oct 1 (IANS) Automobile sales in September revealed a mixed response from customers, with healthy buying support for two-wheeler manufacturers and car makers struggling to touch last year's levels.

Sales data released by auto companies Tuesday showed that consumer sentiment still remains bearish due to high interest rates, rising fuel prices and an overall slowdown in the economy.

Sales of the country's largest passenger car manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki, grew by 11.7 percent at 104,964 units in last month, due to healthy export demand. The company had sold 93,988 units in September, 2012.

There was a sharp rise in the company's exports. Maruti Suzuki exported just 14,565 units in the month under review, 180.8 percent more than 5,187 units sold overseas during the same month last year.

The company's domestic sale increased by 1.8 percent to 90,399 units during the month under review as compared to 88,801 units sold in the corresponding month of last year.

Chennai-based Hyundai Motor, on the other hand, reported a decline of four percent in total sales in September on the back of sluggish exports, which stood at 51,418 units as compared to 53,557 units sold in the corresponding month of 2012.

The country's largest passenger car exporters' sales overseas fell by 8.3 percent for the last month which stood at 20,817 units, down from 22,706 units shipped out in September, 2012.

The company's domestic sales were down by 0.8 percent, and stood at 30,601 units from 30,851 units sold in the corresponding month of last year.

"In the current market scenario volume growth is a big challenge. We expect the market challenges to continue and have a cautious optimism for upcoming festive season," said Rakesh Srivastava, senior vice president (sales and marketing), Hyundai Motor India.

Other major players in the Indian auto market Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) reported a drop in sales.

Tata Motors' total sales including exports in September fell by 33.44 percent, which stood at 50,427 units from 75,773 units sold in the corresponding month of 2012.

Domestic sales were down 34.59 percent in the month under review and stood at 45,998 units from 70,332 units off-take in September, 2012. The company's commercial vehicles sales were lower by 31.96 percent in the month under review at 33,119 units from 48,680 units sold in September, 2012.

Tata Motors' total sales of passenger vehicles slumped by 40.51 percent to 12,879 units last month from an off-take of 21,652 units in the corresponding month of last year.

M&M's off-take last month was down ten percent at 43,289 units from 48,342 units sold in the corresponding month of last year. Domestic sales were also down ten percent at 40,574 units from 45,263 units sold in September, 2012.

Exports dipped by 12 percent at 2,715 units from 3,079 units being shipped-out in the corresponding month of 2012.

"The auto industry is definitely in need of a trigger in terms of a stimulus to boost consumer sentiments leading to a turnaround in the sector," said Pravin Shah, chief executive, automotive division, Mahindra & Mahindra.

On the other hand two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp reported a 15.8 percent growth in September sales at 468,670 units from 404,787 units sold in the corresponding month of last year.

According to the company, its sales in the second quarter of 2013-14, grew by 6.3 percent at 1,416,211 units from 1,332,805 units sold in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal.

"Our performance in September is a result of the strong retail growth we have reported throughout the first half of this financial year," Anil Dua, senior vice-president, marketing and sales, Hero MotoCorp, said in a statement.

Two- and three-wheeler maker TVS Motor reported a sales growth of 16 percent in last month and stood at 197,409 units from an off-take of 170,097 units during September, 2012.

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