In the recent years, India started becoming a major hub as far as cars were concerned. More and more car makers have begun seeing the potential of the Indian auto industry. Last year, our country became the fourth largest exporter of automobiles in Asia. We stood just behind Japan, South Korea and Thailand. In 2008, India was the ninth largest car market producing over 2.3 million units. This year, with so many car launches already, we see our country growing like never before. Let’s have a look at the current Indian automobile industry.
In February this year, many car makers saw record sales figures and car sales have cruised up further in March. Union Budget 2010 brought the partial rollback in excise duty reduction on cars. A little later, came the hike in car prices. In spite of that, March showed good numbers when it came to car sales.
Automotive majors like Hyundai, Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki, Honda, Ford and GM constitute over 90 per cent of all vehicle sales in India. Sales of passenger vehicles of these companies have risen by 19.3 per cent in March, i.e., from 1,95,805 units in March, last year to 1,95,805 units in March this year.
Just before the Union Budget, the Indian car market was sizzling. Buyers feared the hikes post budget and bought cars in the month of February itself. So, February sales shot up to 34 per cent with 1,94,548 units sold as compared to 1,45,166 units in February 2009.
Last we had the economic downfall, while this year has been showing signs of recovery. Passenger vehicle sales figures of the major car makers in 2009-10 shot up by 26.7 per cent, to 2,429,419 units, as compared to 1,918,146 units in 2008-09. Again, with increase in steel prices, the manufacturing cost of cars is likely to increase. The BS IV norms too would come into picture. Therefore, post April 1, car prices are going to increase. This said, buyers flocked to showrooms to get their share before the prices really shot up.
While Toyota has raised the prices of Corolla, Innova and Fortuner models by Rs 5,000 to Rs 14,000, Maruti Suzuki has increased prices for its A-star, Ritz, Estilo, Omni, Swift, DZire and SX4 models between Rs 1000 and Rs 7000.
Experts still believe that the overall growth is going to continue in future, may be at a relatively lower rate. Tier-II and -III towns may see a 15 per cent growth in the car industry in 2010-11, in spite of fears of increase in interest rates and high inflation. GM alone is believed to have a 50 per cent growth over last year.
Sales for Maruti have gone up by 7.7 per cent in March, at 79,530 units. Last year, it had sold only 73,855 units in March. Not just that, Maruti Suzuki has become the only Indian car maker to achieve the milestone of a million units being sold in a year. Export figures too improved for Maruti. Against 70,023 units in 2008-09, Maruti sold 147,575 units during 2009-10.
Coming to Hyundai, it saw a 27.3 per cent growth in March 2010 with 31,501 units sold, compared to the 24,754 units sold in March 2009. This is the highest recorded domestic sales figure in Hyundai’s history. With Indigo Manza and Sumo Grande MKII selling well, Tata Motors saw a 17.4 per cent growth, at 27,761 units compared to 23,649 units sold in March last year.
India is becoming one of the world’s largest markets of small cars. Because of India’s strong engineering base and manufacturing skills in making fuel-economic, cost-effective cars, many auto companies like Nissan, Hyundai, VW, Toyota and Maruti Suzuki have expanded their manufacturing facilities. By 2011, Nissan is expected to export 250,000 vehicles produced in the Indian car market. By 2011, GM too may export around 50,000 cars produced here, in its Indian plant.