With the state of Maharashtra battling a high number of Covid-19 infections and imposing a lockdown to combat the pandemic, the automobile industry will be taking a hit at a time when demand for passenger vehicles (PVs) and two-wheelers is at its peak in Maharashtra due to the Maharashtrian new year – Gudi Padwa – which falls on April 13.
As per an internal estimate by automobile dealers, around 25,000-30,000 units of passenger cars and 70,000-80,000 units of two-wheelers have already been booked in Maharashtra alone and are supposed to be delivered between April 13 (Gudi Padwa) to April 21-22 (Ram Navmi). However, now due to the lockdown, most of these deliveries are unlikely to happen. Maharashtra accounts for around 15-20% of total PV sales and a fair number of two-wheeler demand.
The Federation of Automotive Dealers Association (FADA), the apex industry body representing over 15,000 automobile dealers having 25,000 dealerships, has now approached the Maharashtra government requesting it to allow dealerships to remain open for deliveries with 50 percent manpower.
When asked whether the government has responded to its request, Vinkesh Gulati, President, FADA said, “ We are yet to receive any response from the government on this”. According to FADA, the second wave of Covid is not only spreading faster but will destabilise the growth which India has been able to achieve in the last few months. “Any lockdown at this point will severely hamper the momentum which is getting built for the auto industry to come out of the woods,” FADA said in a statement.
Maharashtra, which currently counts around 58 percent of the total Covid-19 active caseload in India, has already imposed a lockdown from April 5 till the end of the month. The guidelines on activity are restrictive with only government and essential services allowed to function. Restrictions in the form of night curfew were already in force since the beginning of the month. However, there are contradictions in the guidelines issued by Maharashtra government. For instance, while vehicle movement has been allowed, auto services and spare part shops have been asked to remain shut. Likewise, OEMs and suppliers as part of the manufacturing industry can continue to roll out vehicles but retailers are not allowed to sell.