More expensive fuel dampened demand for new cars in India in December, Bloomberg News reported.

December sales fell from 53,760 in 1999 to 31,847 vehicles in 2000, Bloomberg said, citing data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

sales are shrinking

Maruti, the government’s joint venture with Japan’s Suzuki, continues to see its sales shrink, reflecting a trend noted since 1 April. It sold 33% fewer cars in December; 23,846 compared with 31,747 a year ago.

Bloomberg says that an 11 percent increase in retail gasoline prices on Sept. 30 cooled demand for cars and that growth trends have been reversed at Maruti’s competitors such as Hyundai where December sales were off 71 percent year on year to 1,764 cars from 6,111.

Sales at the Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company dropped to 2,280 from 5,388 in the year-ago month, Bloomberg News said.