Tata Motors’ domestic sales last month fell 44% to 23,894.

As reported earlier, total sales including exports for the month fell 47% to 25,219 vehicles. Cumulative (nine-month) fiscal year sales fell 11% to 363,329.

Domestic commercial vehicle sales fell 51% in what is traditionally a slow month in India to 14,056 units.

Medium and heavy CV sales were off 69% to 4,811 while LCV sales declined 29% to 9,245.

“A deepening recessionary trend in the economy, coupled with continuing credit squeeze and high interest rates, has further depressed customer sentiments,” Tata said in a statement.

Cumulative CV sales were down 9% to 195,179 while M&HCV sales fell 23% to 86,720. LCV sales were actually up 6% to 108,459.

“While overall sales have declined, Tata Motors is substantially increasing its market share,” the company added.

December passenger vehicle sales fell 31% to 9,838 though the proportion of retail sales was higher.

“With higher retails than off-takes this month, system inventory has been brought to manageable levels for the last quarter of FY09,” Tata said.

The automaker’s exports declined 72% to 1,325 units last month while cumulative exports for the fiscal year were off 28% to 29,066.

Rival Maruti Suzuki last week reported a 10% drop in sales.

“Automobile sales are usually modest in December because many consumers try and postpone their purchases to the new year when companies push sales trough heavy discounts and offers,” brokerage Sharekhan said in a note seen by Reuters on Friday.

All vehicles makers cut prices last month after the government cut excise duty by 4%age points but it failed to have any impact, the news agency noted.

Top utility maker Mahindra & Mahindra saw sales fall 30%.

But number two car maker Hyundai Motor India saw sales rise nearly 56% in December helped by exports, discount schemes and other incentives.

“We at HMIL have fared better as we have a strong line-up of products in the compact segment which has kept our sales steady,” its sales and marketing head, Arvind Saxena, said in a statement, admitting the market was challenging.