August car sales drop 19%, biggest in 10 months

According to the latest SIAM figures, domestic cars sales in August stood at 1,18,142 units compared to 1,45,066 units in the same month last year, down 18.56 percent.

Updated: Sep 10, 2012, 20:33 PM IST

New Delhi: Car sales in India declined by 18.56 percent in August this year, the biggest drop in 10 months, prompting industry body SIAM to seek cut in excise duty from the government.

With exports also posting the highest decline in more than 11 years, falling 26.83 percent during the month, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) also sought a stimulus package similar to the one given during the 2008-09 downturn, stating the industry is "now entering a desperate situation".

The overall vehicle sales in the country also registered a drop of 3.9 percent to 13,54,436 units in August this year, the biggest decline in more than three and half years.

According to the latest SIAM figures, domestic cars sales in August stood at 1,18,142 units compared to 1,45,066 units in the same month last year, down 18.56 percent. The rate of decline is the highest since October 2011, when sales declined by 23.74 percent to 1,39,095 units.

"This is the time when wholesale numbers should be picking up as dealers stock-up to meet festive season demand, but this has not happened. We are entering a desperate situation. We need help from the government," SIAM Senior Director Sugato Sen told reporters here.

He said the excise duty on automobiles, which was increased in this year's Budget, needs to be reduced, particularly for the commercial vehicles segment.

"The stimulus package, which was provided during the 2008-09 downturn, needs to be provided. If something is not done by the government, we are going to suffer," Sen added.

Car exports during the month stood at 36,104 units, down 26.83 percent. The previous lowest decline in exports was recorded in March 2001, when overseas shipments dropped by 48.37 percent to just 2,221 units.

"The decline in exports has also affected the overall production of the companies here in India," he said.

In this year's Budget, excise duty on small cars was hiked to 12 percent from 10 percent. For petrol cars with engines under 1,200 cc and diesel cars with engine capacity under 1,500 cc, but the length exceeding four metres were increased to 24 percent from 22 percent and a fixed duty of Rs 15,000.

Petrol and diesel driven vehicles having length exceeding four metres and engine capacity of over 1,200 cc and 1,500 cc respectively were charged with an ad valorem duty of 27 percent, instead of the earlier 22 percent and a fixed duty of Rs 15,000.

During the 2008-09 downturn, the government had provided a stimulus package by reducing CENVAT by 4 percent. For the commercial vehicles segment, public sector banks were allowed to provide line of credit to NBFCs on new purchases and one-time assistance under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission to purchase busses for urban transportation.

The month-long lockout at Maruti Suzuki's Manesar plant from July 21 impacted the industry's numbers last month.

Sen, however, said this was not the sole reason for the decline in car sales as the overall market is down due to high interest rates and fuel prices along with inflationary pressure.

"The drop of nearly 19 percent for the industry is too big for a single company to make up," he said.

In the passenger car segment, market leader Maruti Suzuki's sales fell by 49.99 percent to 31,653 units. Rival Hyundai Motor India's sales, however, increased by 6.58 percent to 28,192 units. Homegrown auto major Tata Motors' car sales were up by 31.23 percent at 17,727 units.

According to the SIAM figures, motorcycle sales in last month fell by 8.46 percent to 7,66,127 units from 8,36,887 units in the same month previous year. This is the highest decline in more than three and half years. The sales had fallen by 5.81 percent in January 2009.

Total two-wheeler sales in August 2012 decreased by 4.50 percent to 10,57,925 units from 11,07,782 units in the same period of previous year.

"The two-wheeler industry is also suffering. The last decline happened in January 2009 when sales dropped by 3.95 percent," Sen said, adding factors like high petrol price and interest rates were keeping customers away.

In the motorcycle segment, market leader Hero MotoCorp posted 15.34 percent fall in sales to 3,88,903 units in August. Rival Bajaj Auto's sales went down by 13.89 percent to 1,95,093 units.

However, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) posted a 77.83 percent increase in sales to 96,876 units, while TVS Motor moved 39,413 units, 29.85 percent less than the same month of the previous year.

The scooter segment's overall sales grew by 9.95 percent to 2,33,180 units from 2,12,077 units.

HMSI's scooter sales grew by 14.74 percent to 1,12,288 units in August, while Hero MotoCorp sold 42,836 units, up 51.63 percent. TVS Motor's sales saw decline of 23.08 percent to 37,462 units.

Total sales of commercial vehicles in August rose by 3.92 percent to 66,767 units from 64,248 units in the year-ago period, SIAM said.

Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicle sales declined 8.91 percent to 25,003 units during the month against 27,448 units in August last year.

According to SIAM, light commercial vehicle sales grew 13.49 percent to 41,764 units in August 2012 from 36,800 units in August 2011.

In the three-wheeler category, sales went down marginally to 45,386 units from 45,468 units in the same month last year.