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April 2020 to Go Down In India's History as the Month of Zero Car and Two-Wheeler Sales

Picture for representation. (Getty Images)

Picture for representation. (Getty Images)

The sales numbers for the month of April have started coming in and they show a rather historic event.

As we start off with a new month, this is usually the time when we would be tracking the sales numbers achieved by different automakers across India. We would be taking those numbers and understanding the division of it, like how many of these were exports and how has a particular company performed against itself as compared to the month that had gone by before this, and as compared to the same month last year. Then we would also try to understand whether there has been an impact of their newly introduced launches and even compare the sales numbers achieved by products belonging in the same category that compete against each other and see how their performance has been.

This month was going to be extra special as from April 1, 2020, BS-VI emission norms became mandatory across India. This was meant to kick start the sales for the automotive industry towards positive growth as it was predicted that a lot of people were waiting to get their hands on the BS-VI emission-norm compliant model and were hence, holding back their purchase till April 1, 2020.

This, however, was not meant to be. From the 22 March 2020, the entire country was put under lockdown which meant people were no longer commuting to anywhere as, well, everywhere was closed in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. This also meant that vehicle dealerships, be it of two-wheelers, four-wheelers, commercial or passenger, were shut down. Same for the manufacturing plants as well as the employees were no longer coming to the production facilities.

For the entire month of April 2020, India’s automotive sector closed.

And as a result, April 2020 will go down in the history of the Indian automotive sector as the month when the industry stood still, and zero vehicles were sold.

Now, as we start off with the new month, most of the automakers are not even coming out with the report of their monthly sales as they deem it to be better to not release anything at all instead of saying they did not sell anything. Zac Hollis, Director, Skoda Auto India, even took to Twitter saying that for the first time in 30 years being in the motor industry, he will be officially saying that the sales have been zero for a month.

 

There are a couple of exceptions, however, as Maruti Suzuki – India’s largest carmaker – did issue a statement saying that the sales for the month stood at zero. However, following the resumption of port operations, they did manage to export a shipment of 632 units which was undertaken from the Mundra port. MG Motor India too issued a statement citing zero retail sales across India but went on to say that, “(MG) hopes that the production will ramp-up in the month of May and is (currently) working on the local supply-chain support.”

To give you an idea of how the industry used to be just a couple of months back, we can take a look at the numbers that were racked up in February. The passenger vehicle sales had registered a Year-on-Year decline (YoY) decline of 1.17 per cent, selling a total of 2,26,271 units, as per the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA). Two-wheeler retail sales stood at 12,85,398 units, registering a YoY growth of 1.52 per cent and Commercial vehicle retail sales had grown by 13 per cent clocking 92,805 unit sales. FADA had said that three-wheeler sales were up 20.7 per cent at 65,752 units, Tractor retail sales stood at 41,485 units, a growth of 13.52 per cent.

Retail sales of total vehicles across categories stood at 17,11,711 units in February 2020. And even if we take these numbers as an example, then that means there were 17 lakh vehicles that were not sold in April 2020. And perhaps, that’s the right way at looking at the current scenario. Yes, zero sales are bad, but for the companies, its lakhs and thousands of units that they could not sell during last month.

(With PTI inputs)

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