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Auto: Switch On The Ignition

Despite the GST woes, passenger vehicles and two-wheeler companies are optimistic about record sales

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma

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Despite subdued customer and market sentiments due to economic challenges, car and bike sales in India are usually quite buoyant during the two-month festive season. Be it Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra, Onam in Kochi, Navratri in North India or Durga Puja in West Bengal, most of the OEMs have seen an exponential jump in sales as people prefer to take delivery of  cars or bikes on auspicious dates. According to the latest SIAM data, domestic passenger vehicle (PV) and two-wheeler sales were up by 11.32 per cent at 3,09,955 units and 9.05 per cent at 20,41,024 units, respectively in September. Customer orders continue to be robust despite the price hike of products in line with GST cess hike of premium models. With key sales days of Dhanteras and Diwali yet to come, industry players are confident that the stage is set for a bumper festival ahead.

OEMs Ebullient
Maruti Suzuki, which lords over 50 per cent of the PV market, has reaped the maximum benefits as its newly-launched models have also been well received.  “We are looking for a robust growth during the festival season, which is spread over 3-4 months. The early trend suggest 17-18 per cent growth in the bookings across all regions,” says R.S. Kalsi, Senior ED, (Marketing and Sales), Maruti Suzuki India.

Volkswagen India has recently announced the commencement of Volksfest 2017, a month long carnival for its existing and prospective customers.  Also marking 10 years of its presence in India, the brand introduced four new limited edition models for its carlines: Vento Allstar, Polo GT Sport, Ameo and Polo anniversary edition.

Kamal Basu, Head, Marketing & PR, Volkswagen Passenger Cars India, says, “The two-month celebration starts right from Onam (September) in the South going up to Diwali in the North (October). A lot of auspicious dates come out in the almanacs during this time. Diwali is relatively more popular in the North and West India than in the South. We will customise our strategy accordingly.”

Rakesh Srivastava, Director, Sales & Marketing, Hyundai Motor India, says, “Festivals infuse demand in the market and we are offering enhanced value on models like Eon, Elite i20 and i20 Active, Grand i10, Xcent. For the rural markets, we have initiated a campaign covering 418 locations across the country. We have launched the next-gen Verna just ahead of the festival season and garnered more than 15,000 bookings within 40 days of launch.

Additionally, we launched the Global SUV Tucson with intellimatic ‘four-wheel drive’ earlier this week.”

Jnaneswar Sen, Senior VP, Sales & Marketing, Honda Cars India said, “Riding on the strong festive demand, the company recorded domestic sales of 18,257 units in September.” N. Raja, Director & Senior VP, Sales & Marketing, Toyota Kirloskar Motor says, “The festive season has ushered in a positive growth in the domestic sales.  We are seeing more footfalls across our dealerships under minimal impact post-GST cess hike. To perk up the festive cheer, we have introduced the limited edition Etios Cross X-Edition and Fortuner TRD Sportivo.”

While mass market players are busy chasing volumes, luxury car players are also reaping the festive harvest. Roland Folger, MD, Mercedes Benz India, says, “We have seen heightened footfall at our showrooms and an increase in retail enquiries. September volumes was as per our expectations and we are happy with the positivity among customers and the festive spirit.”

Two-wheelers Also Zoom Ahead
The two-wheeler industry is also doing well and the festive season is further aided the upward sales trajectory.

Yadvinder Singh Guleria, Senior VP, Sales & Marketing, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, “To meet the growing demand we have increased our dispatches which crossed the 6 lakh mark for the second time in a row (August and September 2017).

With 52,000+ retail sales on the first day of Navratri, the volumes jumped to cross the 1 lakh mark on Dussehra day alone for the first time ever breaking all records in the company’s history. Retail sales recorded another new high with more than 10 lakh customers buying a new Honda two-wheeler this festive season so far.

Sajeev Rajasekharan, EVP, Sales and Marketing, Suzuki Motorcycle India, says, “We ended September with record sales for consecutive months, registering a total-domestic sale of 50,785 units in India. This was the first-time we crossed 50,000 units in domestic-sales. Overall, we saw a Y-O-Y growth of 32.99 per cent with 57,469 units. We have also improved our April-September (FY 2017-18) performance by 50.7 per cent viz-a-viz last year, with total domestic sales of 2,41,394 units in this period. We are hoping to do even better in the run-up to Diwali.”