Workers assemble a car at the Tata Motors factory in Pune in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Photo: AFP

India’s automotive sector continues to endure the Covid-19 disruption and the after effects of the recent two-month lockdown. However, sales picked up in July compared with the lockdown period of March 25 to June 1.

The month of July witnessed a 29% drop in total domestic sales at over 1.71 million units as against 2.42 million units in the same period last year, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. In June this year it was 1.09 million units.

Passenger vehicle sales registered a 4% decline – 182,779 units, compared with 190,115 units last year.

In the two-wheeler segment the decline was even sharper at 15% – 1.28 million units compared with 1.51 million units last year. However, the sharpest decline was in the three-wheeler segment –77%. Sales fell to 12,728 units from 55,719 units last year.

SUV sales

On a brighter note, sports utility vehicles recorded a 14% growth in volume over last July. Models such as Hyundai’s Creta and Venue, Kia’s Seltos, Maruti Suzuki’s Brezza and Ertiga registered higher sales. The general pessimistic sentiment amid the pandemic had little impact on SUV sales figures.

Export thrust

Maruti Suzuki, Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor have set their sights on pushing for exports to countries in Africa and the Middle East, where Covid-19 cases are not very high. However, the Latin American markets remain challenging as cases are on the rise.

The president of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, Rajan Wadhera, said that this month’s sales were higher than the previous two to three months, but pointed out that August’s sales will be crucial and indicate whether this rise is sustainable or just based on pent-up demand.