INDIA [updated]: Maruti Suzuki, Tata, sales slow
Maruti Suzuki Friday reported its first drop in monthly sales for more than two-and-a-half years, blaming the fall on a strike at one of its factories that hit production.
The automaker said it sold 80,298 units in June, down 8.8% from a year earlier, AFP reported.
The company said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange that sales also fell due to a planned, six-day maintenance shutdown of its Manesar and Gurgaon factories in northern Haryana state.
Maruti last showed a drop in sales in December 2008, analysts said.
"Production in the company’s Manesar plant in northern state of Haryana was impacted due to a strike by a section of employees," the stock market statement said.
Production of cars stopped for 11 days last month as 2,000 workers at the Manesar plant downed tools to demand the recognition of a new union.
The walkout cost Maruti nearly US$93m and hit production of about 12,600 cars, mainly its high-end, mid-sized D'zire and SX4 models.
In the first days of the strike, Maruti said it had an "ample inventory" to absorb the halt in production and that the delivery and sales of cars were unlikely to be affected.
Maruti chairman RC Bhargava later said delivery of diesel cars produced at Manesar would be delayed, alongside some models meant for export.
The pace of growth for Maruti's car sales has been slowing for three successive months, data showed.
Car sales in India - seen as a bellwether of economic health - are starting to moderate after breakneck growth for nearly two years, as auto loans get costlier and input and fuel costs rise.
Maruti's small car models, including the popular M-800, Alto and A-Star, as well as the SX4 and D'zire plus the multi-utility-vehicle segment all showed lower year-on-year sales in June.
Tata Motors said it sold 66,358 commercial and passenger cars in the same period, down 1% year on year. The Nano sold 5,451 units, down 29%. Tata last saw a decline in total sales in June 2009.
Ford India saw sales grow 7.8% to 9,145 units in June, aided by continued strong sales of its Figo model. But the increase was less than half the level of that in May.
Indian automakers have been forced to push up prices of vehicles by an average 4% in the past year, as prices of key commodities like steel and rubber have jumped up.
Hyundai Motor India showed a 13.6% rise in June sales at 52,531 units.