Tata Motors again surprised on the upside with its excellent performance as far as October auto sales are concerned, even as market leader Maruti Suzuki faced yet another month of depressingly poor sales in its core hatchback segment.
Mahindra & Mahindra, meanwhile, beat the blues thanks to strong demand for its newly launched XUV700 model.
The star of the show in October was undoubtedly Tata Motors, which has been on tear in recent months due to high demand for its cars, and the festival season seems to have added more wind to its sails.
Hence, October marked yet another record-setting month for the company, despite some lingering stress in the commercial vehicle segment. The company reported passenger vehicle sales of a whopping 33,925 units — possibly the highest in its history, and certainly the highest in the last ten years.
This compared to 25,730 units sold in September, and 23,617 units sold in October of last year. Last year, festival sales were impacted by the uncertainty caused COVID-19.
This year, however, demand for vehicles seemed to be as strong as ever, going by Tata Motors’ numbers.
At the same time, commercial vehicle sales continued to remain somewhat impacted, as was expected. The impact of festival sales is much less on commercial vehicle side compared to passenger vehicles.
Moreover, a large part of the demand is being driven by urban consumers, unlike last year when demand was being driven by rural markets.
MARUTI & M&M
Things were, however, not as rosy for Maruti Suzuki, which paradoxically was one of the best performers in the immediate aftermath of the lifting of COVID restrictions last year.
The easing of the lockdown had seen a sharp jump in demand for affordable and basic cars as people scrambled to avoid public transport.
However, that leg of demand acceleration seems to have got over, and Maruti Suzuki, as the maker of India’s most affordable cars, seems to be paying the price.
The company, which reported a drastic fall of 55% in its India sales to just 68,815 vehicles last month, reported yet another month of heavy decline in October, which saw domestic passenger vehicles fall by a third to 108,991 from 163,656 last year.
Overall sales, including exports and CV, were also down at 138,335 compared to 182,448 in October last year.
Worryingly, Maruti Suzuki seems to be getting hit where it hurts the most — in its bread and butter compact segment.
Its compact segment, which includes some of the top-selling cars in India such as Swift, WagonR, Dzire and Celerio, saw sales halve to 48,690 units in October this year compared to 95,067 units in the same month of last year.
On the other hand, Mahindra & Mahindra, which has been struggling to keep up its passenger vehicle numbers through 2020, seems to have found some stability thanks to its new models.
If it was Thar that helped stabilize its numbers late last year, it is the XUV700 — the successor to XUV500 — that is doing the heavy lifting now.
The model had set the order book on fire when booking was started a month ago, with 50,000 units booked in a matter of hours.
Even as some of the other models continue to languish, numbers from Thar and XUV700 are seen as supporting the company’s overall sales figures.
In October, sales of UVs were up 9% on year to 20,034 — one of the rare occasions when the company has crossed the 20,000 mark in its UV division recently.
However, like in case of Tata Motors, smaller CVs continued to see a let up in demand as the economy grapples with uncertainty related to COVID and unemployment.