Maruti-Suzuki Swift cars roll off the assembly line at a plant in Manesar in India's Haryana state. Photo: AFP

Passenger vehicle sales continue to rise in India despite a steep hike in gasoline and diesel prices, while the commercial vehicle sector, which was badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic-induced economic slowdown, is also showing signs of revival.

For the month of February, passenger vehicle sales rose 23% over the same period last year and around 308,000 cars and sports utility vehicles were dispatched from factories to showrooms, Economic Times reports, quoting industry data. This is the seventh consecutive month of growth as people continue to be wary of using public transport amid Covid-19 fears.

The country’s largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki India, reported an 11.8% increase in February, mainly driven by sales of compact and utility vehicles. The company sold 1,64,469 units in February, up from 1,47,110 units last year.

While compact vehicles and utility vehicles registered a double-digit growth of 15.3% and 18.9%, respectively, in February, the sales of mini cars declined by 12.9%.

The country’s second-largest carmaker, Hyundai Motor India, reported a 26.4% increase in total sales in February and improved its tally in the domestic as well as export markets. The Indian subsidiary of the South Korean automobile major sold 61,800 units in February, up from 48,910 last year. Domestic sales were up 29% at 51,600 units, while exports increased 14.6% to 10,200 units in February.

Tata Motors, the automobile arm of salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group, recorded its highest ever sales of passenger vehicles in February, while its commercial vehicle segment also witnessed a turnaround.

Its sales in February totaled 61,365 vehicles, compared to 40,619 units during the same period last year. Passenger vehicle sales soared 119% to 27,225 units, as against 12,430 units last year. Tata Motors sold 58,473 units in the domestic market, up from 38,002 last year, a growth of 54%. Its commercial vehicle sales grew 21% to 33,966 units in February, as against 28,071 units in the year-ago period.

Toyota Kirloskar Motors posted a 36% increase in February sales to 14,075 units, as against 10,352 units last year. The Indian subsidiary of the Japanese auto major had lifted a self-imposed lockdown in mid-January at both its plants in Karnataka state.

SAIC-owned MG Motor reported its highest-ever monthly retail sales at 4,329 units in February – 215% higher than last year (1,376 units). The Chinese utility vehicle maker saw a robust demand for all its models and claimed that the orders for its electric vehicle ZS EV more than doubled to 350 from January.

Meanwhile, commercial vehicle manufacturer Ashok Leyland posted a 19% rise in sales in February. In a regulatory filing, the Hinduja group company stated that it sold 13,073 units this February, as against 11,475 units last year.

The light commercial vehicle segment registered a robust growth of 46%, while medium and heavy commercial vehicle sales grew 5%. Its domestic sales rose 20% to 12,776 units, from 10,612 units last year.