Maruti, Toyota defy trend of tepid car sales in October

Maruti Suzuki and Toyota Motor were the only two companies that showed accelerated car sales in October, while the others recorded either flat growth or a decline as the festive season ended on 19 October.

The overall numbers were impacted by a high base effect of last year, as October 2016 saw strong growth. Last year all festivals were in October and the industry volumes had a high base, as Rajan Wadhera of Mahindra & Mahindra pointed out.

The top five passenger vehicles makers - Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, Hyundai Motor India Ltd, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, Honda Cars India Ltd, and Tata Motors Ltd - sold a cumulative 238,838 units in the month, up 3.7 per cent from a year ago.

Market leader Maruti Suzuki India Ltd led sales in the month. The local arm of the Japanese carmaker sold 135,128 units, up 9.25 per cent over a year ago.

A 29.8 per cent increase in the utility vehicles segment on the back of new launches, including a refreshed version of the premium compact SUV, the S-Cross, more than compensated for the 4.2 per cent fall in the sales of old workhorse models such as the Alto and WagonR.

Sales of the Ciaz sedan fell 35.4 per cent as buyers shunned the hybrid after a price hike of Rs80,000 following an increase in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate.

Hyundai, the country's second largest carmaker, registered a marginal decline in domestic sales at 49,588 units during October as against 50,017 units in the same month last year.

Ford recorded a sharp decline of 44 per cent even as it prepared to launch an updated version of its best selling compact SUV, EcoSport.

Honda registered monthly domestic sales of 14,234 units in October 2017 against 15,567 units in the corresponding month last year.

Honda India chief executive Yoichiro Ueno said, "There have been some market disruptions on account of GST and additional cess implementation in the last few months which resulted in pre-buying ahead of festive period this year.

''During October, we also faced some supply constraints of few components, due to which our production of some models got impacted and held us back in terms of dispatches last month. We have taken steps to strengthen the supply situation and hope it will normalize in November."

Toyota reported a 6.45 per cent rise in domestic sales at 12,403 units in October. The company had sold a total of 11,651 units in the same month last year, TKM said in a statement.

Home grown Mahindra & Mahindra reported a marginal growth in its domestic sales at 48,818 units last month compared to 48,729 in October 2016. M&M president automotive sector Rajan Wadhera said, ''The auto industry has had a mixed month. The build up to Dhanteras and Diwali was good but the demand tapered off subsequently.''

Wadhera cautioned that going forward the auto industry would enter into a year-end period of lower sales.

Tata Motors said its passenger vehicles sales in the domestic market grew by 1 per cent year on year to 16,475 units last month.

"While we have grown, we could have done better had it not been for the long holiday season. We will maintain cautious optimism in the market and hope to see this momentum continue,'' Tata Motors president, passenger vehicles unit Mayank Pareek said.

In the two-wheeler segment, Royal Enfield said its domestic sales were at 68,014 units in October as against 58,379 units in the year-ago month, up 16.5 per cent. Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd reported domestic sales at 46,020 units in October as against 36,493 units in the same month last year, a growth of 26.1 per cent.