Industry estimates passenger vehicles sales last month inched up 0.7% over October 2018.
Wholesale numbers fell for almost all of them except Maruti Suzuki but industry leaders reported stronger retail growth and said they were cautiously optimistic about the coming months. Maruti said wholesale numbers — vehicles delivered to dealers across the country — rose 2.3% to 139,121 units, the first such increase in seven months.
Two-wheeler makers also reported strong retail numbers though wholesale numbers continued to fall. The picture was not so good for truck makers. Both Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland reported more than 30% fall in wholesale deliveries.
Industry executives said that sales trend after the end of the festive season needs to be watched and that it is too early to predict a turnaround.
“We have to wait and see if this positive trend continues over the next few months. Only then we can see there is a turnaround in the market,” said Shashank Srivastava, executive director, marketing and sales at Maruti Suzuki.
Korean automaker Hyundai reported a drop of 3.8% in wholesale sales to 50,010 units in the month, while Mahindra & Mahindra said wholesale sales declined 23% to 18,460 units. Veejay Ram Nakra, chief of sales and marketing of automotive division, M&M, said retail sales exceeded wholesale volumes by 40% in October.
“Our billing numbers are in line with what we had planned for the month since the objective was to significantly correct our channel inventory. We hope to see the positive consumer sentiment continue going forward,” he said.
Tata Motors’ wholesale volumes dipped 28% to 13,169 units. But its retail sales were 36% higher than wholesale numbers and this helped the company reduce its network stock. Honda sales fell 29.4% to 10,010 units while Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) sales fell 6% to 11,866 units.
“The boost in customer sentiment has enabled an upward trend in our sales performance compared to the last few months of slowdown. We hope this pace in retail sales continues beyond the festive season,” said N Raja, deputy managing director, Toyota Kirloskar Motor.
Truck makers continued to suffer with market leader Tata Motors’ sales falling 32% to 39,152 vehicles. Sales at Ashok Leyland crashed 37% to 9,074 units.
Girish Wagh, president (commercial vehicles business unit) at Tata Motors, said wholesale sales improved 7% over September. “The enquiries have increased compared to last month in medium & heavy commercial vehicles and light commercial vehicles, with fleet owners initiating discussions for replacement of older vehicles. We will continue our focus on system stock reduction as we prepare for the BS-VI transition. Overall system stock is now at a multi-quarter low, which coupled with increasing enquiries, and the government’s thrust on infrastructure investments, will help firm-up volumes and realisations in the coming months,” Wagh said.
Sales of two-wheelers too remained under pressure in October. Hero MotoCorp sold 559,248 two-wheelers (domestic and exports) last month, which is a decline of 24% over 734,668 units sold in the corresponding period of the last fiscal year. The company, however, said it recorded highest-ever retail sales in any single calendar month – 1.28 million in October 2019. Rival Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) sold 517,808 units (domestic and exports) last month as against 521,159 units sold in the year-ago period.
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