April 2021 passenger vehicle sales down by 7 percent

Passenger vehicle (PV) sales in April 2021 took a hit, with the second wave of the pandemic underway. Wholesales (sales from companies to dealers) of eight main carmakers for the month were down by 7 percent, compared to March 2021. Since April 2020 was a washout month with zero sales across the board, it leaves little scope for a year-on-year comparison.

Business and industry felt the heat once again in April this year, with lockdown-like restrictions imposed in several states, like Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Jharkhand.

Major carmakers, including Maruti Suzuki, Toyota and MG, as well as two-wheeler brands like Hero and Honda, have already announced a suspension of production at their plants to combat COVID-19, while also running maintenance programmes at their respective manufacturing facilities.

These shutdowns also hint at the piling inventory in the entire system, as the retail channel is partially blocked due to the lockdown restrictions.

Let’s take a quick look at the April 2021 numbers of key carmakers:

Maruti Suzuki: 1,35,879 units

Maruti Suzuki reported total sales of 1,35,879 units last month, showing a month-on-month (MoM) decline of 7.1 percent when compared to its performance in the previous month – March 2021 – which stood at 1,46,203 units.

The duo of Alto and S-Presso went home to 25,041 buyers and the six pack of the Wagon R, Swift, Celerio, Ignis, Baleno, Dzire and Tour S registered sales of 72,318 units. While the Ciaz sedan could clock only 1,567 units, the UV pack of Gypsy, Ertiga, Vitara Brezza, S-Cross and XL6 sold 25,484 units.

On April 28, the company announced plans to advance its annual plant maintenance shutdown, originally slated for June, to be held between May 1 and 9, in order to allow its vendors to divert oxygen supplies to hospitals.

Hyundai: 49,002 units

Hyundai clocked domestic wholesales of 49,002 units in April 2021, registering a decline of 6.8 percent over previous month’s sales of 52,600 units. However, some of Hyundai’s models like the Creta are in high demand and command waiting periods of as high as six months in some cities. The carmaker is continuing with production of its cars at its plant in Chennai to meet customer commitments.

Tata: 25,095 units

Tata Motors registered cumulative despatches of 25,095 units last month, beating the market downturn to record a marginal uptick of 2.3 percent, compared to 24,541 units sold in March 2021. But with the current coronavirus situation in the country, the carmaker has announced adopting a ‘Business Agility Plan’ to take swift actions based on dynamic conditions.

In a statement, the company said, “The lockdown enforced in various parts of the country is expected to impact vehicle demand temporarily. Hence, the company has set in motion a comprehensive ‘Business Agility Plan’ to protect and serve the interests of its customers, dealers and suppliers. By carefully calibrating and matching supplies with retail demand, Tata Motors shall ensure that optimal levels of inventory are maintained with dealers to meet whatever customer demands arise and also be prepared for a rebound in demand once the situation returns to normalcy.”

Mahindra: 18,285 units

Mahindra & Mahindra despatched a total of 18,285 units in April 2021, comprising 18,186 UVs (utility vehicles) and 99 cars and vans. The predominant UV player recorded a notable 9.5 percent uptick over March 2021’s 16,700 units sold.

According to Veejay Nakra, CEO, automotive division, M&M, “The month of April registered a growth of 9.5 percent in our passenger vehicles segment as compared to March 2021. With the increase in lockdown restrictions in many parts of the country, we foresee continuing supply chain-related production challenges. While demand remains good, there would be some impact in the first quarter as a result of low customer movement and dealership activity, due to the lockdown restrictions.”

Kia: 16,111 units

Kia India recorded sales of 16,111 units in April 2021. While the Seltos remains the bestseller with 8,086 units, the Sonet and Carnival recorded 7,724 and 301 despatches, respectively. However, even with a seemingly robust order book, the company registered a 16 percent month-on-month decline when compared to the previous month when it had sold 19,100 units.

But, with the April 2021 numbers, Kia has crossed the cumulative 2,50,000-unit sales milestone in India in 22 months from the start of its sales operation.

Interestingly, after kicking-off its rebranding initiative, the company introduced the refreshed Seltos and Sonet on May 1 with several updates, including the new brand logo.

Toyota: 9,622 units

The Japanese carmaker with a Karnataka-based manufacturing setup was able to register 9,622 units last month, a significant de-growth of 35.8 percent compared to 14,997 units sold in the previous month. Toyota, however, is currently implementing its 19-day annual maintenance programme across both its manufacturing plants, from April 26 to May 14.

According to Naveen Soni, senior vice-president, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, “Despite the challenges, we continue to witness good demand owing to personal mobility needs and the same has helped us clock 9,622 units of wholesales in April 2021. We have been able to partially fulfil the pending orders by making use of the pipeline finished goods inventory.”

“However, partial lockdown in different parts of the country has enhanced the gap between wholesale and retail. Also, sporadic lockdowns impacting different states and cities for varying durations has increased logistical challenges to supply the right vehicle to the right dealership and at the right time.”

Honda: 9,072 units

For Honda, April numbers were pegged at 9,072 units, registering a 27.7 percent month-on-month uptick over March 2021’s 7,103 units. Rajesh Goel, SVP and director, marketing and sales, Honda Cars India, said that the second wave has had “an impact on the business and deliveries in the marketplace. Many parts of the country have been on safety related lockdowns in the last couple of weeks and we see this continuing in the month of May 2021 as well.”

MG: 2,565 units

The Gujarat-based carmaker registered retail sales (from dealers to end customers) of 2,565 units, thereby recording a substantial dip of 54 percent on a month-on-month basis, when its March 2021 volumes were pegged at 5,528 units.  However, the company claims its production and vehicle despatches to dealers were “significantly higher”.

The carmaker says that while it does not see any deterioration in demand, supply chain constraints are likely to continue in the month of May 2021. The production will be impacted by the shortage of semiconductor chips globally and the limitation in working hours due to curfews and lockdowns in various parts of the country.

 As a result of the lockdown, sales during the last 15 days of April 2021 were also impacted. However, MG Motor India’s production and vehicle dispatches to dealers were significantly higher than retail sales, with the carmaker currently having an order backlog of over 3 months across its product lines.

The company has also stated in a press statement that it is left with no stock of cars currently at its Gujarat plant. Furthermore, MG Motor India is observing a complete shutdown of its plant operations between April 29 and May 5.

Growth outlook

With sales in the first-half of May 2021 most likely to be impacted, what with key vehicle-buying states like Delhi announcing an extension of the ongoing lockdown, and Maharashtra as well as Karnataka also enforcing the preventive measure to break the chain of the transmission, carmakers will find the going tough.

However, with nearly all manufacturers having gone hybrid in their retail model and expanded into digital operations, expect their sales divisions to target car buyers in the comfort of their homes. One thing is for sure – online and digital retail will be buzzing in May. 

Passenger vehicle sales in India – April 2021
Company April 2021 March 2021 Change
Maruti Suzuki 1,35,879 1,46,203 -7.1%
Hyundai 49,002 52,600 -6.8%
Tata 25,095 24,541 2.3%
Mahindra 18,285 16,700 9.5%
Kia 16,111 19,100 -15.6%
Toyota 9,622 14,997 -35.8%
Honda 9,072 7,103 27.7%
MG 2,565 5,528 -53.6%
TOTAL 2,65,631 2,86,772 -7%

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