Navratri sales: Cars zoom past sales goalposts, two-wheelers trudge along


The first leg of the festive period, which ended with Vijayadashami on Sunday, left a trail of contrarian tales: even as cars zoomed past their sales goalposts, two-wheelers trudged along the rocky street. Car deliveries right through the nine-day period saw sharp year-on-year (YoY) double-digit increase for most automobile companies, said executives at carmakers and dealerships. In sharp contrast, the temper at two-wheeler firms and dealerships used to be sombre.

The cumulative retail sales of two-wheelers are estimated to have plunged 10 per cent YoY, said dealers. They attributed the lacklustre sales to shuttered schools, colleges, and other commercial establishments accounting for a big share in urban markets.

The current trend is set to widen the hole further between two-wheeler wholesales and retail sales. Overall despatches at two-wheeler firms rose 11.36 per cent in September over final year, while retail sales skidded 12.62 per cent in the same period.

With a major a part of the festive season being dismal, many dealers could find themselves saddled with excess stock at the end of it. “The pent-up demand seems to have dried up,” said a dealer.

Passenger vehicle (PV) sales have been very impressive. “Opposite to expectations, two-wheeler sales aren’t taking a look upbeat and may end the festive season at levels lower than final year’s,” said Vinkesh Gulati, president, Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations of India.

On the other hand, the festival has brought cheer to car companies. Amid the gloom and doom of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mercedes-Benz India has delivered 550 cars right through Navratra and Dussehra. “Such an impressive number of deliveries underscores the accept as true with and confidence that luxury carbuyers have in our brand and line-up,” said Martin Schwenk, managing director and chief executive officer, Mercedes-Benz India. It comes amid market conditions throwing up a couple of spanner in the works, he added.

Sanjay Thakker, chairman and founding father of Landmark Group — probably the most largest chains of car dealerships in the country — said whether his dealerships had more cars, they would have delivered more. “The demand used to be more than what we could deliver for most brands we represent,” said Thakker.

Landmark retails cars from Honda Cars India, Volkswagen India, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., Mercedes-Benz India, Nissan India, and Renault India. Nobody expected to touch final year’s sales numbers, he said, citing the zero sales month of April and supply-related challenges in the subsequent months. “What one is seeing is beyond normal,” he added.

Tarun Garg, director-sales and marketing at Hyundai Motor India, could also be ecstatic. Hyundai retailed 36,000 cars right through the festival — 25 per cent more than what it did final year. “The strong sales momentum one saw in the run-up to the festive season continued. We expect it to be extended,” said Garg, adding that an appealing finance offer, coupled with a new line-up of cars, helped.

Car market leader Maruti Suzuki India delivered around 85,000-90,000 cars, against 60,000-65,000 it delivered final year, said an industry source.

A spokesperson at Honda Cars India said the company’s deliveries saw YoY increase of 10 per cent.

Riding high on the Kwid and Triber, Renault’s Navratri sales jumped 12 per cent to 4,281, against 3,821 units final year, said the company’s spokesperson.

Meantime, both two- and three-wheeler companies remain sceptical approximately the sustenance of the present demand trend beyond December. India’s growth story has never seemed so endangered. It is, subsequently, not surprising that two-wheelers are still sputtering. Two-wheeler makers were ready to ramp up and deliver in record time. That has started for PV makers only now. They, too, will run out of steam soon, warned an industry expert.

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