The domestic automobile industry has got off to a good start in the financial year 2018/19 with most car makers reporting double-digit growth in sales in April 2018. Market leader Maruti Suzuki, which has a 50 per cent share, reported a 14.2 percent growth in sales last month at 163,434 units against 144,081 units in April last year. The growth was led largely by its new launches like the Swift hatchback that resulted in a 31.8 percent increase in volumes in its compact car portfolio. In comparison, the other segments like the entry level mini cars that includes its best selling car Alto and Wagon R and the mid size sedan segment where it sells Ciaz witnessed a 2.8 percent and 27.2 percent drop in sales.
The company's sale of utility vehicles also grew by a subdued 0.8 per cent at 20,804 units but that could be largely due to lesser number of despatches of its mid-sized multi-utility vehicle Ertiga, which is slated for a facelift later this year. Maruti also exported 8,008 units out of the country during the month, 19 percent more than the same month last year.
Homegrown carmakers Tata Motors and Mahindra and Mahindra also reported healthy set of numbers. Tata sold 17,235 units in the domestic market in the month, a 34 percent over 12,827 units last year. It attributed the higher numbers to sustained sales of its hatchback Tiago and robust demand for its maiden compact SUV Nexon. The latter saw its sales in the utility vehicle segment grow by more than three times.
Mahindra's sales during the month in the passenger vehicles segment (which includes UVs, Cars and Vans) grew 26 percent at 21,927 units against 19,319 units in April 2017.
"After a good FY18, we have had a strong start to FY19, having registered a good growth of 22% (including exports and commercial vehicles) for the month of April 2018. The company has achieved good growth both in the personal and commercial vehicle segments. We have also seen an encouraging response to our recent launch - the Plush New XUV500," said Rajan Wadhera, President, Automotive Sector, M&M Ltd. "Going forward, we are confident of this positive momentum continuing in Q1FY19."
US car major Ford was the only outlier in the pack. Its sales slid by 2.5 percent from 7,618 to 7,428 units during the month. The company blamed the underwhelming performance on rising inflation, high interest rates and rising fuel prices but hoped new launches like the Freestyle compact car that was launched last week, will help it grow in future.
"Increasing inflation trajectory which might weigh on customer's access and cost to credit, coupled with increasing crude prices could lead to passenger vehicle industry growing at low single digits - so far this year (calendar year 2018)," said Anurag Mehrotra, President and Managing Director, Ford India.