Feb 3, 2009

Business - Maruti leads in auto sales race

Despite the two stimulus packages announced by the government in December and January, last month saw a mixed performance by car manufacturers in the country. The recently launched A-Star and the highest ever retail sales recorded by the company in December helped Maruti Suzuki India, the country's largest passenger car manufacturer, to register a growth of 5.6% in January at 67,005 units as against 63,459 units in the corresponding month in 2008.

"We had posted the highest ever retail sales in the history of the company in December. Consequently, the stocks at the dealer end diminished and this has led to the jump in sales in January," says a company official, adding that the good number of A-Star, as anticipated by the company and focused initiatives on rural markets have helped us to grow. During December 2008, the company achieved a record retail sale of over 76,700 units.

Since October 2008, sales of Maruti were under pressure with the company registering a negative growth 7.1% in October, 27.4% in November and 10% in December.

On the contrary, Hyundai Motor India, the second largest player in the industry posted a decline of 13.5% at 21,016 units' vis-Ã -vis 24,301 units in the same month last year. Even Honda Siel Cars India posted a dip of 25.7% at 5,773 units as against 7,767 units in January 2008. Tata Motors also registered a dip of 9% at 18,331 units as against 20,119 units in January last year. Even sales of Mahindra Logan went down by 74.1% at 597 units vis-Ã -vis 2,301 units in January 2008.

"This year (2009), as we had predicted, is going to be a very challenging year for the entire automotive industry. However, we are hopeful that we will be able to maintain our market position in the coming months riding on a strong product line-up in the entire compact segment," Arvind Saxena, senior vice-president (sales and marketing) said in a statement.

"Barring new launches which anyways sell in huge numbers in the initial months, the overall sentiments continue to be low and it is not before another quarter or two that sales will bounce back on a sustainable basis," says a Mumbai-based analyst.

Barring Bajaj Auto, all players in the two-wheeler industry registered a positive growth in January. While sales of Hero Honda, the largest two-wheeler manufacturer in India, went up by 5.84% in January at 3, 15,458 units as compared to 2, 98,050 units in January 2008, TVS Motor posted a flat growth at 93,729 units in January 2009 as against 93,385 units in the corresponding period of the previous year. Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India registered a growth of 22% at 94,982 units vis-Ã -vis 77,755 units in the same month previous year. Sales of Yamaha Motor India went up by 192% at 18,320 units in January 2009 as against 6,284 units in January last year.

Sales of Bajaj Auto, however, declined by 34% at 1,10,363 units as against 1,67,592 units in the same month last year.

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