Tepid sales, labour violence mark a rough year for auto sector

Dec 27 2012, 15:58 IST
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In October, SIAM lowered car sales growth forecast to just 1-3 per cent for the fiscal, from the 9-11 per cent announced in July.  (Reuters) In October, SIAM lowered car sales growth forecast to just 1-3 per cent for the fiscal, from the 9-11 per cent announced in July. (Reuters)
SummaryAs the year progressed, excitement and optimism turned into gloom as sales fell in almost all segments.

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MSI rival and the country's second largest car maker Hyundai Motor India also had its share of labour issues at its Chennai plant.

A section of employees under the banner of Hyundai Motor India Employees Union, affiliated to CITU, struck work for 10 days since October 30 pressing for various demands, including reinstatement of dismissed employees.

The strike was called off after a tri-partite meeting between the employees' union, management and the Labour Commissioner at Sriperumbudur. The company agreed to revoke the suspension of the 20 suspended workers, except 5 workers against whom a "domestic enquiry will be initiated".

Besides labour issues, recalls too hit the Indian auto industry. The year saw one of biggest ever such exercises in the country with Ford India recalling over 1.28 lakh units of its best selling Figo and Classic cars to rectify problems related to steering and rear suspension.

Japanese auto giant Toyota also announced to recall 8,700 units of its premium sedan Corolla Altis and Camry in India to rectify faulty power window switches as part of a global drill. Compatriot Honda too recalled 11,500 units of Standard variant of its premium motorcycle CBR 250R, which were produced and sold in India, due to defective brake system.

Following some major recalls by auto makers in India in recent years and absence of any government policy on this, SIAM announced a voluntary vehicle recall policy, which recommended government to take action if any of its members failed to announce recall despite "clear evidence".

SIAM also said that it would assess the need for a mandatory policy if the government decides to frame one, although it would not oppose such a move.

The year also saw excitement when some auto makers introduced new models in an attempt to bring back customers to the showroom. The most important of these was the new Alto, the country's best selling car, by Maruti Suzuki.

The company launched the new Alto in both petrol and CNG options, offered at introductory prices ranging between Rs 2.44 lakh and Rs 3.56 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). Developed at an investment of Rs 470 crore, the new Alto tried its best to revive falling sales of MSI's petrol cars and currently enjoys a pending order of over 40,000 units.

Another blockbuster model that hit the roads during the year was the all new version of entry-level sedan DZire from MSI's

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