It was a mixed bag for the auto industry in the last month of 2012 with Mahindra & Mahindra, Ford, Honda Cars and Hero posting growth, while Hyundai Motor, Toyota Kirloskar and TVS saw their domestic sales fall during the month that is usually low-key for the sector.
Sales are generally low in December as customers stay away from new purchases to avoid losing out on re-sale when the year of manufacture comes into consideration. In December 2012, the country's second-largest car maker Hyundai Motor India recorded a decline of 9.55 per cent in sales in the domestic market at 26,697 units compared to 29,516 units in the year-ago period.
Homegrown auto major M&M's total sales of passenger vehicles including Scorpio, XUV500, Xylo, Bolero and Verito stood at 22,761 units, as against 19,341 units in December 2011 -- up 17.68 per cent.
Mahindra & Mahindra Chief Executive (Automotive Division) Pravin Shah said: "High interest rates, rising fuel prices and an overall slowdown in economic growth has kept consumer sentiment low during 2012. This is also evident in the auto industry sales performance for December, which traditionally has been a lean month."
Car maker Ford India sold 6,517 units in December 2012 in the domestic market as against 5,978 units sold during the same month of the previous year, up 9.02 per cent.
"Despite a tough business environment, we have seen record exports and sustained customer interest in December," Ford India President and MD Joginder Singh said.
Honda Cars India reported nearly four-fold increase in its total sales for December 2012 at 4,242 units. It had sold 1,072 units in the same month previous year.
Toyota Kirloskar Motor posted 24.31 per cent decrease in its car sales at 12,071 units in last month compared to 15,948 units in the corresponding month in 2011.
TKM Deputy Managing Director and COO (Marketing and Commercial) Sandeep Singh said: "Though we are satisfied with the overall growth in our sales volume of last year, the passenger car market continues to be slow, as has been in the last few months."
The company hopes that the new year will usher in good times with economic revival and better market sentiments, he added.
General Motors India reported 21.82 per cent decline in sales at 7,067 units last month. It had sold 9,039 units in the same month of 2011.
"Despite offering various schemes on purchase of every car, market continues to remain depressed on account of various negative factors, including high interest rates and poor economic conditions," GM India Vice President P Balendran said.
If the current macro economic uncertainties continue, the market is not expected to turn around in the short term, he added.
"The only hope now is on a good Union Budget to address some of the concerns of the industry, combined with the announcement of some positive measures to bolster the economic recovery," Balendran said.
Boosted by its new models, Renault India reported over 32-fold jump in sales in December at 5,924 units. In the same month in 2011, the company had only two models - sedan Fluence and sports utility vehicle Koleos - in the Indian market and had sold 185 units.
Commenting on the sales performance, Renault India Managing Director Marc Nassif said: "...the market continues to remain sluggish with high inflation, fuel price hike and high interest rates. If the market dynamics improve, the automotive industry is sure to get a boost in the coming year."
In the two-wheeler space, the country's largest manufacturer Hero MotoCorp reported a marginal increase in its sales at 5,41,615 units in December 2012. It had sold 5,40,276 units in December 2011.
Hero MotoCorp Senior Vice President (Marketing and Sales) Anil Dua said: "December being the last month of the calendar year usually witnesses sluggish retails as customers tend to postpone their purchases to the new year. Despite that, we have been able to despatch over five lakh two-wheelers during the month."
Chennai-based TVS Motor Company's domestic sales of two- wheelers witnessed a decline of 8.30 per cent at 1,34,566 units in December 2012, from 1,46,747 units sold in same month of the previous year.