The automobile industry seems to be on the road to a recovery in fiscal 2009-10, with all carmakers except the Renault arm of Mahindra & Mahindra posting a growth in sales in April when compared to the previous year. Leading their respective segments were market leader Maruti Suzuki and biggest two-wheeler maker Hero Honda, which both posted sizeable sales growth.
Continuing to benefit from the government's stimulus packages announced in December 2008 and January this year, Hyundai Motor, Honda Siel Cars, Mahindra & Mahindra, TVS and India Yamaha Motor also saw a robust rise in their sales in April.
Maruti Suzuki India reported a 15.09 per cent increase in sales in April at 71,748 vehicles against 62,336 units in the same month last year. This is the fourth consecutive month that the company's sales crossed the 70,000 units mark. Domestic sales grew by 8.93 per cent to 64,857 units against 59,539 units in April last year, while exports surged by over two-fold to 6,891 units against 2,797 units last year.
The country's second largest carmaker, Hyundai Motor India, also saw its sales going upwards by 10.9 per cent to 44,371 units against 40,000 units in the same month last year. The domestic market accounted for 22,247 units while exports totalled at 22,124 registering almost 20 per cent growth.
However, Maruti's total sales slipped from the peak of 77,955 units it clocked in March; while Hyundai sold close to 4,000 additional units in April when compared to March.
The A2 segment of Maruti that comprises the Alto, Wagon R, Zen, Swift and A-Star, saw a nine per cent rise in sales to 46,817 units. Hyundai's A2 segment, comprising the i10, Santro, Getz and i20, clocked 41,258 units.
Maruti's A3 segment which includes the SX4 and D'Zire, showed a sales growth of as much as 69 per cent to 7,066 units, against 3,073 units that Hyundai (Verna and Accent) clocked in this segment.
''As compared to last year we saw a modest growth in April 2009. However, we still feel that the market is far from a complete turnaround and it will be a while before we see healthy double digit growth,'' said Arvind Saxena, senior vice-president, marketing and Sales, Hyundai Motors India Ltd.
Home-grown utility vehicle major Mahindra & Mahindra witnessed a 14.85 per cent growth rate in its total automotive sales in April at 23,004 units compared to 20,030 units in the corresponding period last year.
Domestic sales during the month stood at 22,617 units against 19,392 units last year, up 16.63 per cent.
''All our products including the Scorpio, Bolero and the Xylo continue to outperform the industry. The Xylo has posted its highest monthly sales of 3,509 units in April,'' said Rajesh Jejurikar, chief of operations, automotive sector, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.
However, Mahindra Renault's joint venture product Logan showed a 69 per cent decline at 550 units.
Premium car maker Honda Siel showed a 7.53 per cent growth at 3,656 units in April, against 3,400 units in the year-ago period. ''We have shown resilience during the slowdown and have entered the new financial year on a positive note. We are very excited about our new premium car, Honda Jazz which will be launched very soon in India,'' said Jnaneswar Sen, vice-president, marketing, Honda Siel Cars India Ltd.
Two-wheelers riding high
In the two-wheeler segment, Hero Honda Motors sales in April grew by 29.5 per to 370,575 units against 286,252 in the year-ago period. The company sold 17,000 units more in April than in March.
TVS Motor Co posted a 2.86 per cent increase in sales to 113,119 units in April, against 109,972 units in the same month last year.
India Yamaha Motor also reported a 48.25 per cent jump in sales at 15,120 units against 10,199 units sold in the same month last year.
Bajaj Auto reported a 26 per cent rise in two-wheeler sales to 203,930 units from the Previous April's 150,252 units. Most of the rise was accounted for by motorcycle rather than scooter sales. The company's three-wheeler sales grew by 24 per cent year-on-year, from 169,119 to 221,843 units. Exports accounted for 30 per cent of the growth, from 51,887 to 73,624 units.
According to a company release, the growth continues to be led by the Bajaj XCD, which sold 22,072 units in April 2009. The positive response to the introduction of the new Pulsar 150 DTS-i and Pulsar 180 DTS-i in April 2009 is expected to provide further momentum for sales in May 2009, it says.
Flat three-wheeler sales continue to reflect the subdued state of the commercial vehicle industry. Exports are expected to recover from May 2009, according to the release signed by managing director Rajiv Bajaj.
Auto sales in the country contracted in the three months to December in line with a slowdown in the economy as a global financial crisis spread and risk-averse banks pulled back on lending. Commercial vehicles, mainly trucks and buses, where financing accounts for two of three units sold, were the worst hit, with sales halving in some months.
According to data from industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, companies sold a total of 1.3 million passenger vehicles, which includes cars, utility and multi utility vehicles in the financial year up to March, a growth of 21.21 per cent over 2007.