Posting a remarkable turnaround after a dip in sales for three previous months, Maruti Suzuki sold a record 67,005 vehicles in the domestic market--the highest ever in a month in its 25-year history--reflecting a 5.6 per cent growth over January 2008. The previous sales record was 65,216 units, notched up in November 2007, when there was no slowdown.
Tata Motors' also notched up domestic passenger sales of 18,331 in January, the highest since May 2008. This represented a 68 per cent growth over December 2008, but 9 per cent lower than 20,119 vehicles sold in January last year.
A Mumbai analyst credits Maruti's sale figures to three factors--discounts ranging between Rs 25,000 and Rs 50,000 in December and January, buying by government employees after they received sixth pay commission arrears, and softening interest rates on car loans by around 1.5 percentage points in January.
"Customers responded well to our strategy of placing strategic discounts across all models. Also, between April and December last year, the rural markets saw sales jump 8.5 per cent and they continue to grow," says Mayank Pareek, executive officer (marketing & sales), Maruti Suzuki.
Significantly, the Maruti 800 model--which was given up by critics as a model whose time had come to fade away--staged a remarkable recovery in January, gaining around 2 per cent to sell 5,571 units, whereas the A2 segment comprising the Alto, Zen Estillo and Swift, grew a modest 2 per cent to 46,899 units.
It was, however, the company's mid-size models comprising the Dzire, SX4 and grew a robust 124 per cent to 6,590 units. The company, however, clarified that numbers achieved in January 2008 constituted a low base when the Esteem model was being phased between December 2007 and January 2008.
The Dzire was launched in March 2008 and contributes to more than half the volumes the company sells in the mid-size segment. Dealers say it is the largest selling sedan in the segment.
India's second-largest car manufacturer, Hyundai Motor India Ltd, posted a dip of 13.5 per cent in its domestic sales selling 21,016 units against the 24,301 units it sold for the same month last year.
The last time Hyundai's sales dipped was November when sales slid 23 per cent to 14,605 units.
Honda-Siel posted a 25.6 per cent dip in January sales selling just 5773 units of both cars and SUVs. However the new Honda City launched late last year notched up sales of 4,902 units in January compared to less than 3,000 units last year in the same month.
Mahindra & Mahindra's sales of the Logan and its range of utility vehicles dipped in January 19.44 per cent to 13,994 units. However the newly-launched multi purpose vehicle Xylo sold around 1,800 units in the last two weeks of its launch.
Tata Motors said that the January 2009 sales maintained the upward trajectory since August 2008 when the Indica Vista was launched, except for the seasonal dip in November and December. Indica range sales at 11,433 were the highest this fiscal, but 7.5per cent lower than January 2008.
Indigo range sales of 3,973 were 37 per cent higher than January 2008. The Sumo and Safari accounted for 2,925 units, 40 per cent lower than January 2008 owing to disruption of supplies from a key vendor.
Meanwhile Tata Motors commercial vehicle sales dropped 43 per cent to 17.373 units in January 2009.