Pandemic Hammers India Auto Sales


Pandemic Hammers India Auto Sales
Men with protective safety masks on ride motorbikes in Hyderabad, in Telangana, India. . © Melwin clicks /

For the fiscal year ending March 31, India’s domestic automotive sales declined for all segments, most sharply in the two-wheeler and three-wheeler categories, according to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

Although sales showed recovery from low points in April-June 2020, the society said the pandemic – combined with an industry slowdown that preceded it – set vehicle segments back by years.

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Two-wheelers – including motorcycles, scooters and mopeds – are the predominant form of transportation in India. Their sales declined 13% to 15.1 million for the 12 months from April 2020 to March 2021, compared to the same period in 2019-2020. For the quarter ending March 31, two-wheeler sales increased 24% to 4.4 million. After bottoming out in the April-June 2020 quarter with only 1.3 million sales, two-wheeler sales ranged between 4.4 and 4.7 million units in each of the subsequent three quarters.

Passenger vehicle sales declined by only 2% to 2.7 million units for the 12-month period ending in March. For the quarter ending March 31, passenger vehicle sales increased 934,000. During the fiscal year, such sales hit their low point of 154,000 units in April-June. They recovered in the ensuing quarters, ranging from 726,000 to the 934,000 peak in the most recent quarter.

Commercial vehicle sales were down 21% at 569,000 units for the 2021 fiscal year. After falling to only 32,000 units in April-June last year, sales gradually recovered, peaking at 210,000 units in the quarter ending March 31, a 43% year on year increase.

Three-wheeler sales fell the largest percentage, 67%, to 216,000 units for the fiscal year, down from 637,000. After a low point of 13,000 sales in April-June 2020, three-wheeler sales rebounded to 46,000 in July-August, 72,000 in the last calendar quarter of 2020 and 86,000 for the quarter ending March 31, the latter up 34% from the year-earlier period.

Kenichi Ayukawa, president of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, said in a news release that the Indian automobile industry continued to work hard amidst a second wave of coronavirus infections, to maximize production and sales, while ensuring safety of its people, partners and customers.

“On the sales front, a deep structural slowdown in the industry even before the pandemic, combined with the impact of COVID-19 in 2020-21, has pushed all vehicle segments back by many years,” Ayukawa stated. “Recovery from here will require time and efforts, by all stakeholders. There is uncertainty in the value chain owing to semiconductors, lockdowns and raw material. In an environment of uncertainty, instead of trying to predict the future, we will all work hard to create it.”

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