Personal mobility needs boost car sales in March

Tractors continue healthy run

A majority of vehicle makers posted triple-digit growth in wholesale numbers for March 2021, mainly on the back of last year’s low sales base. A year earlier, the nationwide lockdown implemented March 22, 2020 onwards, as well as the move to new emission norms had dampened sentiment. Vehicle makers said the pandemic-driven preference for personal mobility boosted demand.

The country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) sold more than 1.46 lakh passenger vehicles last month in the domestic market compared with 76,240 units in March 2020, and 1.45 lakh in March 2019. The company’s “domestic sales in FY19-20 had fallen by 18% due to reasons that are well known and in FY20-21 have been impacted due to COVID related factors. Domestic sales in March 2020 had dropped about 48% due to COVID related disruptions. It will be seen that domestic sales in March 2021 have only recovered to March 2019 levels,” MSI said in a statement.

It added that for the full financial year 2020-21, it registered total sales of about 14.57 lakh units, which is 6.7% lower than FY20. Total sales include domestic sales of 13.23 lakh units, sales to other OEMs of 38,326 units and exports of 96,139 units.

Hyundai Motor India said its domestic sales saw a 100% year-on-year growth to 52,600 units, while Honda Cars posted 92% domestic sales growth to 7,103 units.

Rajesh Goel, senior VP and director, Marketing & Sales, Honda Cars India said, “FY21was an unprecedented year full of COVID-led challenges, but the industry showed great resilience and made considerable recovery during the unlock phase…Buoyant customers have injected fresh vigour in the market and we are striving to sustain the growth momentum in future.”

Mr. Goel, however, added that the supply constraints due to continuing global shortage of semiconductors has impacted their production volume and dispatches, particularly for the Honda City model, in March 2021.

For Tata Motors, domestic passenger vehicle sales stood at 29,654 units as against 5,676 units in March 2020. Shailesh Chandra, president, Passenger Vehicles Business Unit, said, “Tata Motors PV Business posted its highest ever sales in 9 years, in March 21 and Q4 FY21. In FY21 the business registered its highest ever annual sales in 8 years, while posting a growth of 69% versus FY20.”

Commercial vehicle sales for Tata Motors also saw exponential growth at 36,955 units from just 5,336 units a year earlier. Girish Wagh, president, Commercial Vehicles Business, said, “M&HCVs and ILCVs continued to lead the recovery growing by 48% and 34% respectively over the previous quarter on the back of improved consumer sentiment, firming freight rates and higher infrastructure demand including road construction and mining.”

Mr Wagh added that the company continued to monitor and work on the supply chain to improve availability, especially of electronic components. “We are also reviewing our business continuity plans in view of the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country,” he said.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor sold 15,001 units in March, a growth of 114% from a year earlier. . Naveen Soni, senior VP, said, “The demand for personal mobility still continues to grow as we witness a surge in both enquiries and customer orders.”

Mahindra & Mahindra sold 16,700 passenger vehicles last month, up 94%, while commercial vehicles sales grew to 17,116 as against 2742 units. Veejay Nakra, CEO, Automotive Division,, said “We are witnessing very good momentum in demand and have a strong pipeline of bookings across our SUV range…We expect supply challenges to remain for the next 2-3 months and then ease out gradually.”

In the two wheeler segment, market leader Hero MotoCorp sold 5.44 lakh units in the domestic market, while also registering its highest-ever sales in Global Business (GB) in a single month, of 32,617 units. Naveen Chauhan, head – Sales and Aftersales, said, “FY21 for us has been a period of sharp revival and setting new milestones, despite the backdrop of a significant downturn in the automotive market.”

Chennai-based TVS Motor Company said domestic two-wheelers recorded 115% growth with sales of over 2.02 units in March 2021, while Royal Enfield saw sales rise by 84% to 60,173 units.

Commercial Vehicle maker Ashok Leyland saw sales of 15,761 units last month, as against 1,734 units in March 2020. Likewise, VE Commercial Vehicles recorded sales of 7,037 units as compared to 1,499 units in March 2020.

The tractors segment continued its good run, with M&M’s Farm Equipment Sector (FES) saw domestic sales of 29,817 units last month as against 13,418 units in March 2020. The company’s president Hemant Sikka said, “Impact of lower base coupled with continued positive sentiment driven by healthy reservoir levels, higher MSP and increased liquidity, have led to strong wholesale growth in March. Tractor demand is expected to remain strong as Rabi harvesting is progressing well along with the onset of sowing of summer crops in select markets.”

Similarly, Sonalika Tractors saw a 135% sales growth to 13,093 units. The company said it recorded its highest-ever annual sales of more than 1.39 lakh tractors in FY21.

Escorts Ltd. Agri Machinery Segment (EAM)’s domestic tractor sales in March 2021 was 11,730 tractors as against 5,228 tractors in March 2020. “The tractor demand is expected to continue to be strong led by higher Rabi output, favourable crop prices, and initial positive forecast of the 2021 monsoon season, all supporting rural customer sentiment. Rising inflation, however, continues to be a worry,” the company said.

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