New Delhi: The country's automobile sector's July sales report showed a faint glint of a recovery with the two biggest manufacturers reporting vastly better figures than previous months. Maruti Suzuki India reported a 1.3 per cent increase in domestic passenger vehicle sales in July while sales recorded by the second biggest car maker Hyundai Motor India fell by just 2 per cent.
But news from the other manufacturers, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) and Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) was not so good with each of them continuing to report huge declines in domestic sales.
Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) sold 1,01,307 units in July against 1,00,006 in July 2019 with the two minis Alto and S-Presso jumping 49.1 per cent to 17,258 units compared to 11,577 in the same month last year.
However, sales of Maruti's compact cars, including models such as Swift, Celerio, Ignis, Baleno and Dzire, are still sliding with a year-on-year drop of 10.4 per cent to 51,529 units from 57,512 in July last year.
The utility vehicle segment is doing decidedly better. Sales of Vitara Brezza, S-Cross and Ertiga increased 26.3 per cent to 19,177 units, compared to 15,178 in the year-ago month.
In terms of total sales, MSI reported a dip of 1.1 per cent at 1,08,064 units compared to 1,09,264 in July last year.
Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) saw its domestic sales at 38,200 units last month as against 39,010 units in July 2019, down by just 2 per cent. Its total sales though were down 28 per cent at 41,300 units as against 57,310 units.
Commenting on the sales performance, HMIL's director (sales, marketing & service) Tarun Garg indicated that the company senses a post-COVID trend of preference for personal mobility, and is calibrating its sales strategy accordingly.
Of the rest of the auto pack, M&M's slide of 35 per cent in domestic sales (24,211 units compared to 37,474 units in July 2019) is substantial. Its total sales too were down 36 per cent at 25,678 units as against 40,142 units in the same month last year.
However, M&M's CEO (automotive division) Veejay Ram Nakra stressed the emerging positive, the potential revival in demand, primarily in rural and semi-urban India. "It is encouraging to see that enquiry and booking levels in July are significantly higher compared to June, both for utility vehicles and small commercial vehicles," he said.
The bigger challenge, he said, was on the supply side.
Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) too gleaned some positive news, despite a 48.32 per cent y-o-y decline in domestic vehicle sales, 5,386 units in July 2020 compared to 10,423 in July 2019. Its senior VP for sales and service, Naveen Soni said, "Despite various challenges, July witnessed better sales in terms of both retail and wholesale when compared to June."
In the two-wheeler segment, Hero MotoCorp reported a 3.97 per cent dip in sales to 5,14,509 units as compared to 5,35,810 units sold in July 2019.
Despite the impact of COVID-19, the company registered a sequential growth of 14 per cent over June and reached more than 95 per cent of the wholesale dispatch numbers of the corresponding month in the previous year, the company said.
"Robust volumes have been driven by strong retail sales due to the positive market demand," it added.
The numbers reported by Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd (SMIPL) showed a 50 per cent fall but the company seemed to suggest that once COVID precautions are eased a bit more, the pace would pick up.
"In the unlock phase, the automobile industry is marching towards normalcy in terms of production, distribution and sales while continuing to adhere to precautionary measures. From August 2020, we will try our best to achieve pre-COVID-19 production and sales volume," SMIPL managing director Koichiro Hirao said.