BENGALURU (Reuters) – India’s auto sales volume will take another 3-4 years to reach 2018 levels, an industry body executive said on Tuesday, as the coronavirus-induced lockdown hurt monthly revenue and increased pressure on a sector already reeling from poor demand.
The pandemic-related disruption to the supply chain comes at a time when India’s auto industry was already facing a slowdown in demand and government rules to adopt tougher emission standards forced carmakers to hike prices, driving customers away.
India’s passenger vehicle sales rose 3% to 3.37 million units in fiscal 2018-19, but fell by 18% a year later due to weak demand and the onset of the pandemic.
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), an industry body, said domestic car and SUV sales slumped 50% in June from last year, while sales of two wheelers – widely seen as an indicator of the health of the rural economy – fell 39%.
The rapid spread of the coronavirus and subsequent nationwide lockdown forced several automakers to suspend manufacturing and report zero sales in April, worsening the situation for the sector.
“Production has been slow to pick up due to supply chain disruption and weak demand,” said Rajan Wadhera, president, SIAM.
Maruti Suzuki India (MRTI.NS), which sells one in every two cars in India, sold 51,274 passenger vehicles in June, down 50% from a year ago, while Hyundai Motor India posted a 49% slump, according to SIAM data.
India, the world’s second-most populous country, is slowly limping out of the lockdown while COVID-19 cases continue to rise while some cities are being sent back indoors.
The country’s Nifty auto index .NIFTYAUTO, which tumbled nearly 11% in 2019, crashed over 31% in March as India entered a lockdown. The sub-index was trading 2.25% lower on Tuesday, amid a 1.5% fall in Indian equities.
Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru: Editing by Bernard Orr and Sherry Jacob-Phillips
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