September is traditionally a week month for car sales in India. This is the period in the Hindu calendar called ‘Shraddh’, the period of paying homage to one’s ancestors. Buying anything new during the 14-day period is considered inauspicious by Hindus.

As a result, car sales in September are usually low compared to other months of the year.

However September 2005 was quite different, with most car manufacturers reporting double digit sales growth. This was mainly due to car sales being hit earlier by events such as floods in some parts of the country (including Mumbai [previously Bombay], one of the biggest passenger car markets in India). This resulted in a latent demand for cars during September and hence a healthy growth rate.

Passenger car market leader Maruti Udyog, which builds Suzuki-designed models, sold 46,393 cars, a 15% increase over September 2004. Hyundai Motor India reported 22.6% growth to 14,391 units. Its total sales for the month, including exports, reached 23,768 units – growth of 18.6% over last year.

However, Tata Motors had a flat month. The company moved 16,078 vehicles, an increase of just 1% over last year. Its flagship Indica hatchback achieved sales of 9,669 units. Exports were 4,930 vehicles compared with 2,301 a year ago, an increase of 114.3%.

Similarly, utility vehicle manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra could only boost volume 6% to 10,410 units.

Skoda Auto India, a marginal player, albeit with a local assembly plant, reported a 31% jump in sales to 909 units compared with 693 last year.

General Motors India had a near flat month, too, with sales of 3,220 units compared with 3207 in September 2004.

September’s growth was welcome in an industry which has seen sales slump slightly recently. The growth last month combined with sales associated with the upcoming festive season may see automakers notch up double digit rises overall as the year draws to a close.

Deepesh Rathore