The COVID-19 pandemic has crippled the automobile sector forcing it out of its spot on the country's top 10 exported commodities' list for the first time since FY18. Products of iron and steel replaced the auto sector in FY21 in the list.
According to the data shared in Economic Survey 2020-21 released on January 29, the share of motor vehicle/cars fell below 2.2 percent during the April to November period. The sector entered the top 10 list in 2018-19 with a share of 2.6 percent which fell to 2.5 percent in 2019-20.
“The pandemic-related disruptions led to sharp fall in exports of Motor Vehicles/ Cars as it no longer figures among the top 10 exported commodities in April-November, 2020”, the Survey report stated.
Automobile exports from India nosedived 28 percent during April-November to 2.32 million units from 3.21 million units in the same period last year, according to data shared by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). India exports 17-20 percent of its automobile production with Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East as its top export destinations.
Passenger vehicle segment recorded the biggest fall recording a slump of 50 percent. Two-wheelers, the most exported products from India, reported export fall of 22 percent during the eight months.
The six weeks of April and May saw strict nation-wide lockdown which meant factories were shut overnight, crippling production. The following weeks saw production activity getting back on stream in a subdued manner because of restrictions imposed at the local levels and due to limited supplies of auto components.
Moreover, the economies of several countries which import vehicles from India were battered by the pandemic as well leading to a fall in demand.
But subsequent to the lifting of the lockdown and manufacturing activities going back to pre-COVID-19 levels automobile exports during the October-December quarter rose by an average of 13 percent every month, as per the SIAM data.