Maruti jams up industry sales growth rate

Vehicles stuck in a heavy traffic jam
A double-digit decline in sales of the country’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki, pulled down the growth of the domestic passenger vehicle industry to sub-three per cent in June. The industry’s sales had grown six per cent in June last year. The May 2016 growth was identical.

June was a mixed bag and growth was limited to Hyundai, M&M (Mahindra and Mahindra), Tata Motors, Renault, Ford, and Nissan. The surprise element was Toyota, with its first double-digit growth in more than a year. All these companies have launched one or more new products in the past one year.

Maruti, which has a 48 per cent market share, saw its first double-digit monthly sales decline in recent history after it lost several days of production due to a disruption in component supply and a six-day maintenance shutdown. The company’s domestic sales slipped 10.2 per cent.

The company’s June domestic sales stood at 92,133 units against 102,626 units in the same month last year. All segments of vehicles barring utility vehicles saw a decline. The company’s stock price closed at Rs 4,165.8, down 0.46 per cent from the previous day’s close while the BSE Sensex gained 0.54 per cent. “The company expects to recover the production loss during the course of the year,” Maruti said.

The second-largest player, Hyundai, clocked growth of 9.7 per cent in domestic sales as it dispatched 39,806 units to dealerships. Rakesh Srivastava, senior vice-president (sales and marketing) at the South Korean automobile maker, credited the growth to pull for models like the Grand i10, Elite i20, and Creta. He said a positive environment was building, with good beginning of the monsoon and the announcement of the 7th Pay Commission salaries for central government employees.

Utility vehicle firm M&M grew its June sales by over seven per cent to 17,070 units. “With the advent of a good monsoon, which we are currently witnessing, we hope to see improved sentiment and buoyancy in demand,” said Pravin Shah, president and chief executive (automotive) at M&M. The company’s stock price hit a 52-week high of Rs 1,472 and closed at Rs 1,460.7, up 2.22 per cent from the previous day’s close.

Tata Motors’ June sales grew 22 per cent and the company attributed it to strong demand for the recently launched hatchback Tiago. Toyota, which has been badly hit due to a Supreme Court ban on diesel vehicles of 2,000 cc in the national capital region, as reported a steep growth of 29 per cent in June helped by 7,800 units of the recently launched Innova Crysta. N Raja, director and senior vice-president (sales and marketing), said production of the Crysta had been ramped up and the company could now produce 8,000 units a month.  

Renault’s growth spree on the back of the Kwid continued. The company posted a 173 per cent growth in June. Its alliance partner Nissan grew 55 per cent on the back of recently launched redi-GO which is estimated to have sold about 2,900 units in June. Ford also doubled its domestic sales to 9,469 units. Problems continued for Honda, Volkswagen and GM. All the three remained in the red.

“The shift in consumer preference led to a high stock of diesel vehicles at our dealerships. We have been rationalising wholesale dispatches to correct the stock situation. Our retail sales were much higher than wholesale,” said Yoichiro Ueno, president and chief executive officer at Honda Cars India.

Analysts see growth picking up in next couple of months. “June is traditionally a weak month and this June was an exception due to events at Maruti. The growth drivers are in place now and the industry is expected to post good growth August onwards,” said Amit Kaushik, country head (India) at Jato Dynamics, a UK-based automotive consulting firm.

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