Automakers woo customers with offers to beat slowdown

Discounts and attractive offers are back in the Indian auto market as slowdown blues and sluggish demand has forced automakers to take measures to keep consumers coming to showrooms.

Some companies, including Hyundai and Tata Motors, have tied up with SBI for vehicle loans. Punjab National Bank chairman K R Kamath too flagged off a special monsoon offer in an attempt to push market share in the retail loan business.

However, automakers are worried that despite the goodies on offer, there seem to be few takers and sales have failed to take off. According to Shashank Srivastava, chief general manager (sales & marketing) at Maruti Suzuki India, discounts have been fairly high since June and the current season is best for buying a car.

Analysts, however, say the higher incentives by companies were not a surprise as the market had been rather slow with domestic car sales down 16 per cent last month.

All three top manufacturers - Maruti, Hyundai and Tata - saw numbers shrink alarmingly and Maruti had to even cut production to align output to market realities.

Meanwhile, auto parts suppliers to Hyundai Motor Co's Indian unit have been informed that the company would likely introduce a 0.8-liter small car in October. This is being seen as a step by the second largest carmaker in the country to take on rivals Maruti Suzuki India and Tata Motors Ltd.