Maruti posts first rise in monthly sales since May 2011

India's top carmaker Maruti Suzuki (India) Ltd reported its first monthly sales rise since May 2011, driven mainly by export growth, even as it exited crippling production cuts from prolonged strikes last year.

Maruti said its sales rose 5.2 per cent in January, with a 54.3 per cent rise in exports. Domestic sales were still lagging and were up merely 0.6 per cent, pulled down by high interest rates and rising fuel prices.

Maruti, 54.2 per cent owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp, is expected to have lost Rs20.000 crore in sales due to the prolonged strike at its main production site in India due to labour unrest.

Car sales in India are seen growing just 0-2 per cent in the financial year that ends in March, and the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) expects sales to rebound with an easing of interest rates in 2012.

Maruti Suzuki expects sales volumes to be 11 per cent lower in the financial year that ends in March, compared with the previous year, managing executive officer Mayank Pareek said today.

The carmaker's sales are down 14.5 per cent so far this financial year, he added.