NEW DELHI: Domestic passenger vehicle sales halved in March compared to the same period of last year because of the coronavirus crisis and also the ensuing nationwide lockdown.
A total of 1,43,014 passenger vehicles were sold in March 2020 in India, 51 per cent less than the two, 91,861 units sold in March 2019, consistent with data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
Commercial vehicle sales plunged 88 per cent to 13,027 units last month, compared to 1,09,022 units during the year-ago period.
Three-wheeler sales stood at 27,608 units, 58.34 per cent lower on a year-on-year basis. Similarly, two-wheeler sales were recorded at 8,66,849 units in March 2020, compared to 1,440,593 units in March 2019, a decline of 39.83 per cent.
Commenting on the March data, SIAM Director General Rajesh Menon said: " The automobile sector witnessed one of its sharpest declines in domestic sales in March 2020 because of subdued demand and consumer sentiments which were further aggravated by the COVID-19 outbreak within the country."
SIAM President Rajan Wadhera said that March 2020 was one among the foremost challenging months for the auto sector because the 21-day lockdown resulted in bringing production and sales of vehicles to a standstill during the last week.
As the revenues took a severe hit, the initial equipment manufacturers struggled to satisfy fixed charge and working capital requirements, he said.
"The industry was already reeling under severe degrowth and therefore the pressure of disrupted supply chain, which was followed by a majority of the auto companies announcing a shutdown of their manufacturing units during the last week of March because of concerns over ensuring workplace safety and health of their employees," Wadhera said.
He said that as per SIAM's estimate, the Indian auto industry is losing Rs 2,300 crore in production turnover for each day of closure.
The auto industry is engaged during a dialogue with the govt. on policy measures which could minimise the impact of COVID-19 on the Indian economy, especially the auto industry.