- The first set of data shows a 12.73% growth for passenger vehicles in November 2020
- SIAM revises it later to 4.65%
- The error due to inflated numbers of units attributed to Maruti Suzuki
- Maruti's over 50% market share led to a wild swing in industry figures
- Sales indicate festive cheer is wearing off. In October, growth was 14.2%
Automotive industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) found itself in an embarrassing position on Friday when it had to revise industry sales data for November after it released inaccurate figures with inflated sales numbers for Maruti Suzuki, India's largest car maker.
SIAM collates and releases industry sales data every month, considered not only authentic but also forming the backbone of many economic policy decisions in the country. On Friday morning it first released data for last month that showed Maruti had registered sales of 156,244 units a growth of 12.3 per cent over last year when the company had actually sold only 135,775 units that represents a 2.4 per cent decline over November 2019.
The carmaker's substantial over 50 per cent market share meant it also bumped up industry figures for the month-a 12.73 per cent growth at 285,367 units against the actual 4.65 per cent at 264,898 units. It is perhaps for the first time in over 24 years that an error of this magnitude had been committed.
"We extend our sincere apologies for the inadvertent error in the collating of data for the month of November 2020. We genuinely regret the inconvenience caused therein. We will share the revised press release with corrected data with you shortly," SIAM said in a statement after a couple of hours of releasing the first set of data. The revised data came after another hour.
For passenger vehicles these wholesale numbers, which represent vehicles dispatched by manufacturers to their dealers, have grown for four consecutive months but as feared the end of the festive season in mid-November, is beginning to impact demand. In October, sales were much higher both in absolute terms-310,294 units to 264898 units, or percentage growth terms-14.2 to 4.65 per cent.
The trend was similar in other segments as well albeit to a lesser extent. In two-wheelers, sales grew by 13.43 percent at 1,600,379 units in November 2020 as against 1,410,939 units in November 2019. Motorcycles grew by 14.9 percent at 1,026,705 units while scooters grew by 9.3 percent at 502,561 units. In October however, sales were much higher at 2,053,814 units representing a 16.88 percent growth over October 2019.
Further, the gap between wholesale and retail figures-which is released separately by Federation of Automotive Dealers Association (FADA) every month, was much higher in two-wheelers, which indicated high levels of inventory at dealerships. According to FADA, only about 1,413,378 two-wheelers were sold at the retail level last month, 21.4 per cent less than in November 2019, and about 1,87,001 units less than the wholesale numbers.
This, in turn, could mean absolute wholesale figures will come down further in the months to come unless there is a significant uptick in demand. The chances of that do not look particularly bright.