‘Pent-up demand may drive recovery’
Amid multiple State-wise lockdowns and disruptions to production, automakers posted muted wholesales of vehicles last month.
Maruti Suzuki India, the country’s largest carmaker, said it sold 32,903 passenger vehicles (PVs) in the domestic market, compared with 1.35 lakh in April 2021, and 13,702 in May 2020. “The company shut production from May 1 through May 16, so as to divert oxygen from industrial use for medical purposes. In May 2020, the company witnessed production disruption owing to lockdowns. Since neither of the two months had normal production, the sales volume of May 2021 are not comparable with May 2020,” the company said.
Hyundai Motor India’s domestic sales stood at 25,001 last month. It had dispatched 6,883 in May 2020, and 49,002 units in April 2021.
Tata Motors said domestic PV sales slumped to 15,181 units from 25,095 units in April 2021. It had recorded sales of 3,152 units in May 2020. Likewise, the company’s domestic commercial vehicle (CV) sales stood at 9,371 units in May, as against 14,435 in April, while it was 1,266 units in May 2020.
For Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M), domestic PV sales were 8,004 units last month. It had sold 18,285 units in April 2021 and 3,867 unts in May 2020. Its domestic CV sales stood at 7,508 units, as against 16,147 units in April 2021 and 5,209 units in May 2020.
“With the cases coming down and gradual opening up of markets, we foresee strong demand rebound. We are working closely with our supplier partners to manage supply chain issues and meet market demand,” Veejay Nakra, CEO, Automotive Division, M&M Ltd., said.
Kia India said it registered sales of 11,050 units in May 2021, making it the fourth-most sold car brand in the country last month. Tae-Jin Park, chief sales and business strategy officer, Kia India, said, “The on-going second wave of COVID-19 pandemic made things tough for all businesses and the automobile industry was no exception, as normal business operations got disturbed. In these tough times the relentless efforts of our teams and partners enabled Kia India to achieve its highest ever market share of 10.7%. We are confident that the need for personal mobility and pent-up demand will drive the recovery for the entire industry in the months to come.”
Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) said it sold a total of 707 units in May, and had reported wholesales of 1,639 units in May 2020 and 9,622 units in April 2021. Naveen Soni, senior VP, TKM, said, “Last month witnessed no production at our plants in Bidadi as well as minimal sales owing to the much-needed restrictions and sporadic lockdowns in different parts of the country. Hence comparing last month’s performance to that of May 2020 would be highly skewed, as May 2020 had witnessed a gradual restart of both operations and sales. More so for TKM, as even before the restrictions were announced in Karnataka, we were well within our planned annual maintenance shutdown, thereby adding to the number of non-production days.”
Mr. Soni, however, added that the overall market situation as well as consumer sentiment are better than in May 2020, and the company anticipated that factors such as ‘pent-up demand’ and the demand for personal mobility will continue to be quite significant once markets open, as consumers will want to own their vehicles instead of using shared or public mobility options.
Honda Cars India said it dispatched 2,032 units in the domestic market in May 2021. Rajesh Goel, senior VP and director, Marketing & Sales, Honda Cars India Ltd., said, “Multiple State-wide lockdowns throughout the country to control the spike in COVID-19 infections in May 2021 impacted retail business. Last month, we also undertook extended maintenance-related shutdown of our factory leading to limited production but effectively breaking the chain amidst high number of cases in north India. With increase in pace of vaccination and the declining cases, we expect markets will open gradually allowing business continuity.”
He added that the company would closely monitor the on-ground situation with its dealer partners to understand the consumer sentiment and accordingly plan production and supplies in coming months.
Impact on two-wheelers
In the two-wheelers segment, market leader Hero MotoCorp said it sold over 1.59 lakh units in the domestic market last month due to adverse impact of the plant closure amid the second wave of the pandemic. The sales stood at over 3.42 lakh for April 2021 and over 1.08 lakh units for May 2020.
“Hero MotoCorp proactively halted operations at all of its manufacturing facilities across the country on April 22. Three of the plants — located in Gurugram, Haridwar and Dharuhera — resumed single-shift operations on May 17, followed by the other three located in Neemrana, Halol and Chittoor on May 24,” the company said, adding that considering the unprecedented situation, sales volume of May 2021 was not comparable with the corresponding month of the previous year (May’20) and sequentially previous months of this year.
It said the company continued to monitor the situation closely and would move to double-shift production gradually.
Rival Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India (HMSI) said it dispatched 38,763 units in May 2021. It had sold more than 2.4 lakh two-wheelers in April 2021, and 54,000 units in May 2020.
Yadvinder Singh Guleria, director – Sales & Marketing, HMSI, said, “May 2021 witnessed further slowdown in sales momentum with close to 80% of the network being non-operational due to local lockdowns. The situation on-ground is very dynamic with weekly announcements of lockdown extensions. We are closely monitoring the situation and with some relaxations in economic activities visible across towns as per new guidelines, we are optimistic on gradual resumption in our dealership operations…Moving forward, we shall be aligning our production to meet the market demand accordingly.”
Chennai-based TVS Motor Company sold 52,084 two-wheelers in the domestic market last month. It had sold 41,067 units in May 2020. “Domestic sales in May 2021 was lower due to lockdowns in many States, but retails continue to be ahead of despatch. We have reduced dealer stocks to support our dealers and channel partners and will produce to maintain adequate inventories for customer demand. We expect that pent-up demand will return as markets begin to reopen,” the company said.
It, however, added that demand in the international market continued to be robust as two-wheeler exports registered sales of more than 1.02 lakh units in May 2021 from 15,151 a year earlier.
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