Domestic car sales down 9.59% in 2013, first in 11 years

CarDomestic passenger car sales declined to 1,32,561 units in Dec compared with 1,38,835 units sold in the year-ago month. Express

Annual car sales in India declined for the first time in 11 years in 2013, posting a 9.59 per cent dip, as the auto industry reeled under a prolonged demand slump due to the economic slowdown.

According to the Society of Indian Automobile Industry (SIAM), domestic car sales last year fell to 18,07,011 units from 19,98,703 units in the previous year.

"The decline in annual car sales that we witnessed in 2013 was the first time after 2002. The negative sentiments have deepened due to the current state of the economy," SIAM Director General Vishnu Mathur told reporters here.

He said high inflation, fuel prices and interest rates - which resulted in high cost of ownership - have affected sentiment.

Highlighting the prolonged slowdown, SIAM said car sales in India have been in positive territory only for three of the past 17 months - October 2012, August and September 2013.

The industry hasn't yet bottomed out, Mathur said, adding that other segments such as commercial vehicles are badly hurt due to lack of mining activities and stalled infrastructure projects.

"We expect some rebound happening in commercial vehicles in the second half of the year," Mathur said, adding that it could have some rub-off on passenger cars as well.

In the April-December 2013 period, the industry saw the launch of 22 new car models, 40 new variants and 10 model refreshes, intended to bring excitement in the market, he said.

In December, domestic car sales declined 4.52 per cent to 1,32,561 units from 1,38,835 units in the same month in 2012.

Market leader Maruti Suzuki India posted a 6.4 per cent increase in domestic sales at 73,155 units as against 68,729 units in the same month of the previous year. Hyundai Motor India sales were also up 6.2 per cent at 28,320 units compared to 26,651 units in the year-ago month.

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