Overall Vehicle Sales in India grew by 15% in January: FADA

January 2024 saw strong growth across all vehicle categories, with the overall auto retail market expanding by 15%. Two-wheelers (2W) led the charge with 15% growth, followed by three-wheelers (3W) at 37%, passenger vehicles (PV) at 13%, tractors (Trac) at 21% and commercial vehicles (CV) at a modest 0.1%.

Overall auto retail market grew 15% in January on an annual basis, FADA data showed on Tuesday. While all segments posted a double-digit growth, commercial vehicles saw a 0.1 % growth and the auto body has warned of a demand taper in the final quarter of this financial year.

Data from the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA) showed that two-wheelers, three-wheelers, passenger vehicles and tractors grew 15 %, 37 %, 13 % and 21 % year-on-year, respectively, in January.

January 2024 presented a complex scenario for the CV segment, demonstrating limited YoY growth. “On one hand, increased infrastructure development, port activity and positive crop yields fuelled certain market segments. However, this momentum was hindered by extreme weather, tightened liquidity, high vehicle costs and more restricted financing”, said FADA President Manish Raj Singhania.

Several positive trends in the 2W market signalled a robust start to the year. Improved vehicle availability, due to adjustments post-OBD 2 norm implementations, the introduction of new models and a shift towards premium options all contributed to increased demand. “This, combined with a good harvest, a positive marriage season and effective follow-ups and offers, indicate a favourable trajectory for the 2W sector. Furthermore, despite supply shortages, increased interest in electric vehicles highlights evolving consumer preferences within this segment”, Singhania said.

The 3W sector revealed a mixed landscape. While growth and optimism continue within the commercial 3W market, intensified competition from electric models underscores a significant market shift – now 55% electrified.

A record-breaking month, the PV segment achieved all-time high retail sales of 3,93,250 units and impressive 13% YoY growth. SUV demand, along with the introduction of new models, greater availability, effective marketing, consumer schemes and the auspicious wedding season, underpinned this strong performance.

However, despite this achievement, serious concerns remain regarding PV inventory levels, now in the 50-55 day range. “This calls for immediate recalibration of production from OEMs to better align with actual market demand and avoid future oversupply issues. As adaptability is crucial in this dynamic industry, OEMs must balance innovation with strategic production planning to ensure sustained success and overall market stability”, said Singhania.

The commercial vehicle segment might experience a slight demand taper in the fourth quarter due to a high base effect and upcoming elections. However, long-term fundamentals remain positive, with expectations of a post-election rebound as underlying industries resume tender processes.

Near-Term Outlook: Balancing Growth Signals and Navigating Challenges

February 2024 presents a multi-faceted outlook for Indian Auto Retail. While Dealers anticipate growth, it’s crucial to acknowledge the prevailing challenges that require close navigation:

Factors Promoting Growth:

Demand Drivers: The ongoing marriage season, anticipated income from agricultural sales provide a positive foundation for continued consumer spending, supporting growth in the 2W segment.

New Launch Momentum: Increased vehicle availability and successful new model introductions across all segments hold the potential to stimulate market demand

Policy Impact: Favourable post-Union Budget policies are expected to drive growth in the CV sector, particularly within infrastructure-related industries.

Potential for Further Growth: The Government’s optimistic crop production estimates and continued support measures are expected to boost the rural economy, potentially leading to even higher tractor demand and increased sales of entry-level 2Ws in rural areas.

Challenges and Market Complexities:

Market Uncertainty: Anticipation of upcoming elections may introduce caution among consumers, affecting purchasing decisions across vehicle segments.

Supply Constraints: Persistent supply bottlenecks for specific high-demand models present a risk factor for consistent growth across 2W, CV and PV segments, highlighting the need for OEM optimization of production lines.

Finance & Liquidity: Fluctuating market liquidity and the potential for tighter financing in the CV sector require a focus on consumer financing solutions to support overall sales.

On an overall basis, the Industry Outlook leans towards cautious optimism but shows growth potential in near term.