Coronavirus brings auto sector to its knees; sales tumble in March

A nation-wide to prevent the spread of has brought an already struggling auto industry to its knees.

India’s automobile sales dropped by an average 64 percent as all manufacturers shutdown plants due to the is a primary barometer of the country’s economic health and a sharp drop signals the magnitude of effort required to restart the economic engine post the pandemic health crisis.

Maruti, which sells one in every two cars in India, said it sold 83,792 units in March, down 47 percent from a year earlier, although it said the number was not comparable with 2019 due to the suspension of operations from March 22.

Export sales were down 55 per cent to 4,712 units from 10,463 in the year-ago period.

In the domestic market, light suffered a blow of 71.5 per cent to 736 units in March 2020 compared to 2,582 units in March 2019.

remains committed to the safety and well-being of its employees, business partners and customers. The company will continue to support government at the Centre and state levels and follow all advisories in combating Covid-19,” the company said.

“Vehicle sales were impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent nationwide lockdown,” said Mayank Pareek, president, passenger vehicles unit at Tata Motors. The company said its passenger vehicle sales for March fell 68 percent, while sale of which includes trucks and buses slumped 87 percent.

Tata said in future it would report sales numbers once a quarter instead of monthly to “avoid needless short term volatility” and help investors “focus on the long term drivers of the business”

Mumbai-based Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) reported a 88 percent year-on-year fall in its passenger vehicle (PV) sales for March amid the imposed due to corona virus outbreak.

The carmaker passenger vehicle sales were at 3,384 units in March, down 88 percent YoY. The drop was primarily driven by its utility vehicle portfolio, which accounted for sales of 3,111 units last month as against 25,801 units from a year ago.

M&M also posted a 90 percent decline in its commercial vehicle (CV) sales, which stood at 2,325 units in March as against 24,423 units during the year-ago period.

“Our performance in March has been muted on account of the impact of the current lock- down related to Covid-19 and the disruption in our BS VI ramp-up plan,” Veejay Ram Nakra, chief executive officer, automotive division, M&M said.

Talking about the production scheduled of its BS IV vehicles that were hit due to the supply constraints from China in February, Nakra added, “It was planned between February and March but was affected due to the challenges of parts supply from global and local suppliers. We have been able to clear our BS IV inventory, but for fewer than 100 vehicles. However, there are many vehicles that are sold, but not yet registered because of the closure of RTOs.”

In the utility vehicle (UVs) category, which contributes nearly 100 percent of its total PV sales, M&M sold 10,675 units last month compared with 24,349 units in the corresponding period last year.

“The ramp-down of BS-IV vehicle production has been in line with our plan for February. However, because of the unforeseeable challenges on the parts-supply from China, our BS-VI ramp-up has been affected. This has resulted in a high de-growth in our billing volume for February and our dealer inventory is, now, under 10 days,” said Veejay Ram Nakra, chief of sales and marketing, automotive division, M&M.

MG Motors which sells the popular Hector said that sales were actually showing some improvement in March before the crisis broke out. “While the situation improved during March before the lockdown was announced which resulted in shutdown of our manufacturing plant,” managing director Rajeeb Chaba said.