Even as the Indian automobile industry grapples with an unprecedented demand slowdown, a war over data has ensued between two industry bodies-Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) that represents OEMs (original equipment makers) and Federation of Automotive Dealers Federation (FADA), the body of over 15,000 dealers. SIAM releases auto sales figures in the first fortnight of every month. Over the past 12 months, FADA has been releasing its own data, sourced from the government's Vahan website.
The SIAM data is on the number of vehicles dispatched from factories to dealers while Vahan provides the actual number of vehicles registered in the country in a month. Typically, the two should even out over a period of time. In the last six months, as the slowdown has deepened, there has been a divergence. As manufacturers took double-digit cuts in production, SIAM's data showed an over 20 per cent decline in sales. FADA's data is a bit more optimistic and shows a mid-single digit decline in most months. FADA wrote to SIAM urging it to start reporting retail data as well, as the true barometer of trends in the industry. SIAM rubbished the suggestion saying Vahan data is unauthentic. There is some merit to that. Vahan data is updated on a daily if not hourly basis and fluctuates wildly. For September, when SIAM pulled out data from Vahan on October 11, it showed an 8 per cent increase in passenger vehicle sales over the last year. A week later, on October 18, when FADA released data for the same month, it showed a steep 20 per cent decline. Just like there is no consensus on reasons for the slowdown in the sector, it seems there is now confusion over which data to follow. The logjam only makes matters worse.