SIAM April data shows auto sector skating on thin ice

by Mayank Dhingra 12 May 2021


The fact that the auto industry is going though its worst phase in recent times has been borne out by data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) today. More significantly, the booming SUV segment has finally felt the impact of the second wave. 

The passenger vehicle (PV) segment saw nearly 262,000 units despatched to dealers in April, a 10 percent fall from 291,000 units in the preceding month (March 2021). This sequential comparison has been done keeping in mind that April 2020 saw zilch sales following the national lockdown. 

Of this year’s April tally, cars took up 142,000 units (157,000 units in March ’21) and SUVs 109,000  (122,000) units while vans were flat at 11,568 (11,604) units. This flat performance could be attributed to the upsurge in demand for ambulances as Covid infections reach record highs.

Market leader, Maruti Suzuki, continued production for the entire month and only pulled down its shutters on May 1 while Toyota Kirloskar Motor and MG Motor India had shut down their units in April. Hyundai Motor India and Kia Motor India continued to produce popular models such as the Creta, Seltos and Sonet in an effort to maximise deliveries in those states still open for non-essential activities until earlier this month.

The resumption of lockdowns is bad news for the three-wheeler segment which continues to languish. Passenger-carrying three-wheelers crashed by 57 percent last month with wholesales of y 9,248 (21,614) units while goods carriers also fell 57 percent to 4,480 (10,316) units. However, electric three-wheelers are increasingly becoming the new norm for e-commerce companies with online business gaining traction.

Two-wheeler sales have been reeling under tremendous pressure owing to the nationwide closure of schools and colleges for more than 13 months now. SIAM data shows that despatches in April were 1.27 million units,  a sharp 30 percent fall from the preceding months’s tally of 1.81 million units. 

Of these, scooter sales which primarily come from urban areas were a little over three lakh (458,000) units, a fall of nearly 35 percent. Motorcycles, the mainstream commuting option in rural India, reported sales of 668,000 (9956,000) units, down 33 percent while mopeds with 25,977 units crashed 42 percent from 44,688 units in March ’21..

With rural India now wilting under the Covid scourge, things look grim coupled with the fact that a host of states have gone into lockdowns with Tamil Nadu and Telangana being the latest to join the list. Coupled with automakers shutting down production, May is going to be a complete washout for the industry.