New Delhi: Snapping a nine-month streak of decline, domestic passenger car sales grew by 15.37 per cent to 1,33,486 units in August this year, compared to 1,15,705 units in the same month last year.
Industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), however, played down the feat saying the growth was mainly due to low base effect as a result of the month-long lockout last year at the country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) Manesar plant.
"This (growth) is not a reflection of the market conditions. This is mainly due to Maruti's numbers compared to last year. The tough market conditions still remain. Interest rates are high, fuel prices continue to be high while sentiments are extremely low," SIAM Deputy Director General Sugato Sen told reporters here.
He said the positive growth seen in August is unlikely to be sustained in September and a recovery in the market is likely to happen only in the next couple of quarters. "For this fiscal, we are staring down at a negative growth of car sales. If we have to match last year's 2.7 million units, we need to be selling over two lakh units each month but in the last three months, we have sold less than that," Sen added.
In August, market leader MSI doubled its domestic car sales at 63,499 units as against 31,653 in the same month last year. The company had declared a month-long lockout at its Manesar plant in August 2012 following a violent labour unrest in which a senior executive was killed.
Hyundai Motor India Ltd registered a marginal increase during the month at 28,281 units as against 28,192 units last year. Tata Motors saw its sales plunge by 50.57 percent to 8,761 units as against 17,727 units in August last year.
Another homegrown major, Mahindra & Mahindra, which mostly sells utility and sports utility vehicles, saw its domestic passenger vehicles sales decline by 25.45 per cent to 18,137 units during the month.
According to the latest SIAM figures, motorcycle sales grew by 3.82 percent last month to 7,95,378 units from 7,66,127 units in the same month of previous year.
"The good monsoon has had an impact on rural sales of two-wheelers, specially that of motorcycles. We expect this to continue and the rural demand could also have a slight positive impact on car sales," Sen said. During August this year, two-wheeler market leader Hero MotoCorp posted 1.61 per cent increase in its domestic sales at 3,95,180 units as against 3,88,903 units last year.
Rival Bajaj Auto saw its bike sales decline by 22.6 percent to 1,50,989 units as compared to 1,95,093 units last August. Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India's (HMSI) motorcycle sales grew by 48.68 per cent to 1,44,039 units as against 96,876 units in the year ago month.
According to SIAM, total two-wheeler sales in August 2013 grew by 6.68 percent to 11,28,598 units from 10,57,925 units in the same period of previous year. Scooter sales during the month were at 2,83,142 units as against 2,33,180 units last year, up 21.43 percent.
HMSI saw its scooter sales grow by 31.44 percent to 1,47,600 units in August this year. Hero MotoCorp also witnessed 28.31 percent increase in scooter sales at 54,966 units during the period. Total sales of commercial vehicles declined by 23.11 percent to 51,334 units from 66,767 units in the year-ago period, SIAM said.
Sen said the medium and heavy commercial vehicles segment (M&HCV) has been badly affected and it witnessed a decline for the 18th consecutive month. During the month, M&HCV sales were down 38.24 per cent at 15,468 units. Total sale of vehicles across categories registered a growth of 4.47 percent to 14,12,512 units in August 2013 as against 13,52,025 units in the same month of 2012, it added.