Auto Exports Surge as Domestic Sales Dip

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Apr. 9 – Indian automobile exports exceeded domestic sales during the financial year April-March 2009, as liquidity dried up and the rupee lost its sheen.

According to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers domestic car sales rose 1.3 percent during the year to 1.21 million cars from 1.20 million in the previous year, registering the slowest growth in seven years. Consequently, exports for the financial year just ended surged 57 percent to 331,539 cars from 211,112 cars. SIAM reported that while domestic sales had fallen from 12 percent to 1.3 percent due to higher borrowing costs and job losses, exports of small cars to Europe especially had surged.

Additionally, domestic sales of trucks and buses fell 22 percent during the financial year 2008-09 to 384,122 vehicles from 490,494, and motorcycle sales grew 1.2 percent to 5.83 million units in the past year, while scooters gained 9.1 percent to 1.14 million, according to SIAM. Nonetheless, domestic vehicle sales are expected to speed up this fiscal as the impacts of the stimulus package incentives kick in, consumers take advantage of the reduced interest rates and new cars add a variety of choice for the consumer.

India is Asia’s third-biggest automobile market by sales volume after China and Japan. While transport infrastructure lags much behind both China and Japan, car makers are stepping on the gas, wooing Indian drivers with both luxury cars and small cars. Besides the much touted launch of the Tata Nano for which sales open today, Porsche and Czech auto giant Skoda also plan to introduce new cars to Indian roads.