Auto sales grow in Feb but industry outlook still bleak

Automobile sales in February have shown that launching new vehicles even in tough economic times pays off....

Written by ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Published:March 3, 2009 1:27 am

Automobile sales in February have shown that launching new vehicles even in tough economic times pays off. Market leaders Maruti Suzuki,Hyundai Motors India Limited (HMIL) and for the first time in 7 months even Tata Motors have managed to record positive sales growth.

Arvind Saxena,senior vice-president,marketing and sales,HMIL,said in a cautionary mood,“February 2009 sales saw a slight upturn with double digit growth for the industry but the overall market situation continues to be challenging and not much should be read into the February growth as last year in February the budget was to be announced and a substantial amount of sales were deferred till March. We expect a fairly flat sales growth curve for the industry for the first quarter ending March,2009.”

Maruti,which has so far had an excellent 2009,continues to record good sales figures and dominate the segment. February 2009 saw the company sell 70,090 units,more than three times its nearest competitor HMIL,and more importantly 18.74% higher sales than the same month last year when it sold 59,030 units. While Maruti 800 sales continue to decline,the SX4 and D’zire launched in March 2008 have proved to be customer favourites and breathed new life into Maruti’s stakes in the sedan segment.

Similarly,Honda Seil Cars India’s (HSCI) New Honda City continues to make otherwise wary customers want to purchase cars. The company saw a sales growth of 47.83% selling 5,579 (4,739 of which were Honda City) cars in February this year over 3,774 cars in February 2008.

HMIL’s sales figures continue to violently swing from positive to negative. Sales were up by 10% in October 2008,down by 23% in November 2008,up again by 19% in December 2008,down by 13% in January 2009 and back up by 45.31% in February 2009.

Tata Motors recorded its very first month with positive,albeit flat,sales since July 2008. In February 2009,by selling 19,039 units over the 18,766 units sold in February 2008 they registered a sales growth of 1.45%.

There appears to be no silver lining for General Motors India (GMI). With a parent company teetering on the precipice of bankruptcy,February to add to their woes brought a 11.54% decline in sales. Rounding up this segment,the market continues to make it clear to Mahindra & Mahindra that there are few to no takers for the Logan. Sales of the car plummeted by 63.63% as it sold 1,008 units in February 2009.

In the two-wheeler segment,Hero Honda after 3 difficult months appears to have bounced back with a 23.97% increase in sales. In February 2009,3,29,055 units were sold against 2,65,431 units sold in the same month last year. Bajaj Auto continues its free fall in terms of both sales and market share. The company is now facing its fifth consecutive month of falling sales selling only 1,31,785 units this February — a 16.944% decline over February 2008 when they sold 1,58,662 units. TVS continues to gain ground with a 12.67% increase in sales which was the result of a sale of 1,07,301 units in February 2009 over 95,235 units sold in February 2008.

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