Sales by India’s biggest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India, which sells one in every two cars in the country, fell 16% in the last fiscal year, hit by a slowing economy and lean demand as well as the coronavirus outbreak, a media report said.
Maruti, majority owned by Suzuki Motor, sold 1.56m vehicles during the year ended 31 March 2020, compared with 1.86m in the previous year, the company told Reuters on Wednesday.
The coronavirus outbreak has infected nearly 800,000 people across the world and caused more than 38,800 deaths, according to a Reuters tally. In India, 32 people have died from 1,251 confirmed infections so far.
To curb the spread of the virus, the government last week sent the country into a 21-day lockdown, forcing automakers such as Maruti, Mahindra & Mahindra, Ford, Toyota and Hyundai to suspend manufacturing.
Maruti sold 83,792 units in March, compared with 158,076 a year earlier but said the numbers were not comparable as it had to suspend operations from 22 March in the wake of the government order.
“The shutdown started only last week, so the fall is still steep even if it is not comparable,” Shashank Kanodia, an auto analyst at ICICI Securities, told Reuters.
“If this is the trend, we can expect to be negatively surprised by all automakers.”
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers estimates plant closures by automakers and auto part manufacturers are expected to lead to a daily revenue loss of more than INR23bn (US$305m).