Car makers expect no cheer this festive season

Hit by demand slowdown and low consumer sentiment, car manufacturers are expecting a tepid festive season this year.

New Delhi: Hit by demand slowdown and low consumer sentiment, car manufacturers are expecting a tepid festive season this year.

"The market conditions continue to be extremely tough. Although sales during the festive season will be definitely higher than what we have seen in July and August it will be less than what we had witnessed in last year`s festive season," Mahindra & Mahindra President (Automotive and Farm Equipment sectors) Pawan Goenka said.

He was speaking on the sidelines of SIAM annual convention here.

Expressing similar sentiments, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Deputy Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer (marketing and Commercial) Sandeep Singh said: "Normally you see 20 percent growth during the festival time but this year we are not looking at that. We expect somewhere around 8-10 percent growth in volume as compared to previous months."

In total, the automobile industry will decline quite substantially this calendar year, he added.

Tata Motors, which is among the worst hit by the slowdown in its passenger cars segment, is also not too optimistic about festival season bringing in a drastic upswing in demand.

"If you look at the trends of our industry, then unfortunately, 2012-13 was less than 2011-12 and 2013-14 is looking less than 2012-13. We expect to see a boom as we have always seen in this country as far festival season is concerned, but looking at the trends it will be lesser than last year," Tata Motors Managing Director Karl Slym said.

General Motors India President and Managing Director Lowell Paddock, was however, optimistic that there will be some reason to cheer this festival season.

"Last year we were equally optimistic...I am certainly optimistic that we will see some demand coming in the festive season," he said.

Reeling under high interest rates, fuel costs and low consumer sentiments due to overall economic slowdown, car sales in India have declined for a record 9th consecutive month in July.

Industry players have sought government support in the form of stimulus package and reduction in excise duty to overcome the slump. The depreciating rupee has also affected the industry, forcing some of the players to hike product prices, even as others are contemplating a similar move.