India Auto Sales paint a mixed picture in September 2023

The trends seen in the last two months in auto sales continued in September, with urban and premium models and segments doing well, while commuter and rural oriented segments continued to underwhelm.

The high base of Tata Motors’ passenger vehicle division started catching up with the company, even as Maruti hit one of its all-time highs in terms of total sales last month, boosted by continued strong demand for SUVs.

Among two-wheelers, TVS Motor Co continued to eke out modest growth in a market that is seeing tremendous signs of stress.

Commercial vehicle sales, meanwhile, did better than passenger vehicle sales, with Eicher Motors alone posting 12% growth in September.

Tata Motors

Tata Motors, India’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer, posted total domestic sales growth of 2% to 82,023 units in September 2023.

Commercial vehicle sales increased 13% to 37,214 units driven by a 45% jump in heavy commercial vehicle trucks.

However, passenger vehicle sales — which has been behind Tata Motors’ incredible performance in recent months — declined 6% to 44,809 units due to reduced supplies of outgoing models. Electric vehicle sales continued to surge, growing 57% to 6,050 units in September.

For the second quarter as a whole, the company has posted a 4% increase in total commercial vehicle sales to 1,04,085 units in Q2 FY2023 compared to 1,00,536 units in Q2 FY2022.

The growth was driven by a strong 25% jump in heavy commercial vehicle truck sales on the back of continued infrastructure push by the government and growth in core sectors. Medium and heavy commercial vehicles, including trucks and buses, also grew by 21% year-on-year.

However, second quarter passenger vehicle sales declined by 3% to 1.39 lakh units in Q2 FY2023 from 1.43 lakh units in Q2 last year.

The decline was attributed to proactive reduction in supplies of outgoing models ahead of new generation model launches. Electric vehicle sales were a bright spot, jumping 55% to 18,615 units on strong momentum. The company launched the new generation models of its popular Nexon SUV and Nexon EV during the quarter.

TVS Motor Co

Two-wheeler maker TVS Motor Company posted total sales growth of 6% in September 2023 to 4,02,553 units compared to 3,79,011 units in September 2022. Domestic two-wheeler sales were up 6% to 3,00,493 units while motorcycle sales jumped 10% to 1,86,438 units. Scooter sales grew 8% to 1,55,526 units.

A standout performer was TVS’ electric two-wheeler sales, which surged over 4x to 20,356 units in September 2023 compared to just 4,923 units a year ago. Total exports also grew by 8% due to improving overseas demand.

In the second quarter of FY2023, TVS Motor’s total two-wheeler sales increased by 6% year-on-year to 10.31 lakh units. However, three-wheeler sales declined 16% to 0.43 lakh units during the same period.

Overall, Tata Motors saw good momentum in commercial vehicles but passenger vehicle sales dropped due to model changeovers. TVS Motor benefited from strong growth in electric two-wheelers and recovering exports but three-wheeler sales remained weak. The automakers are gearing up for the upcoming festive season which typically sees robust demand. Their new product launches and improving macro environment should support auto sales in the coming months.

Maruti Suzuki

India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India Limited reported its September 2023 auto sales, highlighting diverging trends in passenger vehicle segments.

Total domestic passenger vehicle sales declined by 2% year-on-year to 1,50,812 units in September 2023. This was led by a steep 24% decline in mini and compact car sales to 78,903 units, including models like the Alto, Swift, Ignis and Baleno.

However, utility vehicle sales jumped 82% to 59,271 units driven by new launches like the Grand Vitara and strong demand for models like the Brezza and Ertiga. The share of UVs in Maruti’s domestic PV sales increased to 39% in September 2023 from just 22% a year ago.

In the fiscal year so far, Maruti has sold 8,73,107 passenger vehicles domestically, a 10% increase over FY 2022-23. But mini and compact car sales fell 11% while UV sales surged 87%. For the first time, Maruti’s half-yearly sales crossed 1 million units at 10,50,085 units, up 7% versus the same period last fiscal.

The auto sales highlight the rapidly changing preferences of Indian car buyers towards feature-rich and stylish utility vehicles, even as entry segments languish due to increased costs and feature gaps. Maruti Suzuki has moved swiftly to capitalize on the UV boom through new launches and strengthening its portfolio.

Ashok Leyland

Chennai-based Ashok Leyland, India’s second largest CV maker, saw its total domestic CV volumes grow 10% year-on-year in September to 18,193 units. Sales of medium and heavy commercial vehicles (M&HCV), which include trucks and buses, rose 14% to 11,960 units. Light commercial vehicle (LCV) sales were up 3% to 6,233 units.

For the first half of FY2024, Ashok Leyland’s total domestic CV volumes rose 8% to 86,052 units. The company attributed the growth to increased activity in core infrastructure sectors like construction, mining and improved freight movement.

Ashok Leyland’s total CV volumes, including exports, grew 9% in September to 19,202 units. Exports were however lower due to the economic slowdown in some markets. For the fiscal year so far, total CV volumes including exports rose 7% to 91,175 units. The company is enhancing its presence in export markets like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Middle East.

Eicher Motors

Gurgaon-based Eicher Motors, which sells CVs under the Eicher brand and Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles (VECV) joint venture, also posted healthy growth. Eicher’s total domestic CV volumes shot up 12% in September to 6,715 units.

Domestic sales of light and medium duty trucks grew 6% while heavy duty trucks rose 11%. Bus sales were up 67% driven by demand from schools and intercity transportation. For the fiscal year so far, Eicher’s total domestic volumes have grown 16% to 36,178 units.

VECV, which sells Eicher and Volvo branded trucks and buses, saw its total volumes increase 9% in September to 7,198 units. For the first half of FY2024, total VECV volumes rose 12% to 39,122 units. Volvo truck and bus volumes more than doubled in September, albeit on a low base.

The CV makers are witnessing demand revival after two years of downturn, led by increased infrastructure spending by the government. The growth in e-commerce and FMCG is also driving freight movement. Going forward, the makers expect healthy sales momentum to continue driven by strong demand prospects.