Maruti Suzuki cars at a parking lot in Mumbai: Photo: AFP

Flat sales brought little festive cheer to Maruti Suzuki, the country’s largest car maker, a unit of Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corporation.

Indian car makers normally see bumper sales during the festive season, but this October the year-on-year growth for Maruti Suzuki was a mere 0.6%.

Maruti is hoping that the recent softening of fuel prices and robust rural demand will lift passenger vehicle sales in the remaining months of the 2019 fiscal year.

For the past two years urban markets, which provide the bulk of sales, have not only recorded lacklustre growth, they have in fact declined. In the 2017-18 period, Mumbai recorded a 20% fall in sales, Bangalore sales dropped 11% and Chennai 4.5%. Delhi and Pune posted a modest 2% growth in the same period.

Maruti Suzuki senior director R.S. Kalsi has said that heavy traffic congestion, plus the rising popularity of cab aggregators such as Ola and Uber have lowered the demand for cars in metro cities, Times of India reports.

The other factors he highlighted were increasing fuel prices, high insurance premiums and rises in vehicle finance interest rates.

On the contrary, during the past few years, rural sales have been increasing at 12-14% per year.

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