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Sluggish Auto Sales Make Auto Expo More Relevant

Passenger car sales figures of all carmakers put together witnessed only 1.4 per cent increase in January versus the same month a year ago

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma, Kamal Kumar, Sanjay Sakaria, Sanjay Sakaria,

Carmakers in India are banking on the Auto Expo in Greater Noida to kick start sales in the domestic market because the New Year began on a sluggish note for manufacturers. Maruti Suzuki, Toyota, Tata Motors and Honda cars witnessed little growth or decline in their car sales figures for January.

Overall, the passenger car sales figures of all carmakers put together witnessed only 1.4 per cent increase in sales for January versus the same month a year ago.

Hyundai Motor India, Mahindra & Mahindra and Volkswagen did clock high single-digit growth but the worry of declining sales looms large.

Overall, Maruti Suzuki India reported a 2.6 per cent decline in total sales in January (113,606 units in January 2016 versus 116,606 units in January 2015). Domestic sales for Maruti showed only a marginal increase of 0.8 per cent (106,383 units as against 105,559 units in January 2015). Sales of passenger cars declined 1.4 per cent the country's largest carmaker said blaming the sluggish numbers to lesser number of working days in January 2016 due to planned plant shut down for three days.

Maruti saw sales in mini car segment - Alto and WagonR - decline by 4.3 per cent, while the sales of premium hatchback - Swift, Ritz, Celerio, Baleno and Dzire - also dipped by 2.8 per cent. Now Maruti is banking on its Vitara Brezza unveiled at the Auto Expo to boost its domestic sales. Vitara Brezza is expected to hit the markets by March-April and will take on Hyundai's Creta, Ford EcoSport, and Mahindra TUV300.

Tata Motors reported bad January figures as sales of passenger vehicles in the domestic market dipped by 18 per cent - 10,728 units in January 2016 versus 13,047 in January 2015. Honda Cars India reported a 6.52 per cent dip in domestic sales - 17,135 units in January, 2016 vs 18,331 units sold in January 2015.

Tata Motors is now looking at some of its new and upgraded cars at the Auto Expo to give a sales boost. It is showcasing Nexon subcompact SUV, Hexa crossover SUV, and Safari Storme Tuff among other cars at this year's expo.

However, the worst impact was demonstrated in the sales of Toyota Kirloskar Motor that ended up selling only 8,793 units in the domestic market (against 12,650 in January 2015), a sharp decline of 30.49 per cent. Toyota blamed it on the recent ban on registration of diesel vehicles with engine capacity of more than 2000 cc in Delhi and NCR.

However, Hyundai India's domestic sales jumped 9.3 per cent to 38,016 units (against 34,780 units in January 2015) lead by strong performance of products like Grand, Creta and i20 Elite/Active. At the Auto Expo, Hyundai re-introduced the popular Tucson SUV to fill the gap between its Creta and Santa Fe.

Mahindra & Mahindra saw its domestic sales grow 9.84% to 40,693 units last month (versus 37,045 in January 2015) while German auto major Volkswagen clocked 7.6 per cent increase in sales in India at 4,018 units (last year January sales stood at 3,734 units).

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