May was another good month for Indian passenger car sales as domestic sales improved by 13%. According to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), domestic sales of 68,516 units compared to 60,618 units in the same month last year.

The months of May and June are normally healthy for car sales as the just-ended harvest season prompts sales growth in smaller towns. India's economy is highly dependent on agriculture and monsoons and a good monsoon last year resulted in good sales for May.

The passenger car market also did well because of some heavy discounting by manufacturers in the face of competition. The result was an all round gain for everyone as all manufacturers registered growth in May.

Maruti Udyog's sales rose 5% to 40,006 units, up from 38,000 units in May 2004. The new Swift has met with a good response with 22,000 orders already. Deliveries are expected to lag.

Tata Motors saw sales of 14,005 units, a marginal 2% growth. Hyundai Motor India saw a spurt in demand to 14,001 units, up 81%.

Car exports grew only marginally to 23,964 units because Maruti Udyog experienced a steep 64% decline, offsetting the gains made by Hyundai Motors India.

HMIL exports the Santro Xing (Atos Prime) and orders have been buoyant, the company managing to ship 9,205 units. On the other hand, Maruti's staple export - the European market Alto - is now in the declining stage of its life cycle.

Deepesh Rathore / Tilak Swarup