Shaking off the two-year lull during the Covid-19 pandemic, the automobile industry expects revived fortunes as more buyers take home big-ticket purchases this festival season.

Shailesh Chandra, Managing Director, Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles and Tata Passenger Electric Mobility, said, “Strong Q1 has given the much-needed boost to the industry after two years of downturn. We expect the industry to further grow in Q2 owing to a strong order pipeline, new launches, low channel inventory and festive demand. We will have to cautiously observe the demand situation post the festive season, given that H1 of CY2022 has been strong on supplies. It may release the pent-up demand and seasonality may start hitting the industry. However, the industry seems well poised to surpass the peak achieved in FY19. We have been consistently improving our market share for the last eight quarters. In Q1, our market share crossed 14 per cent owing to strengthening of volumes across the product portfolio. We are confident of carrying ahead the fervour into the festive season on the back of the success of all the products in our portfolio.”

SUV in demand

Companies are crediting the growth in demand during the festival season to a rise in disposable income and a return to normalcy in the market as compared to 2021.

Veejay Nakra, President–Automotive Division, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, said, “We are expecting an upward trend in sales for our SUVs and small commercial vehicles, starting with Navratri next month. We continue to see strong demand across our brands in both the segments with an order book of around 1.7 lakh-plus units. Demand is extremely strong on Bolero Neo, XUV300, All-New Thar and All-New XUV700. With the recent blockbuster launch of All-New Scorpio-N and commencement of bookings last month, we expect the order book to increase substantially before and during the festive season.”

Sports utility vehicles (SUVs) are emerging as the preferred choice in the country, said Rakesh Srivastava, Managing Director, Nissan Motor India. “Nissan India is expecting an increased demand as we have seen a steady response for Nissan Magnite since its launch across markets, and our bookings are on an increase. We have strengthened the supply chain, especially semi-conductor availability,” he added.

Waiting period woes

Car buyers have in the recent past been dismayed by long waiting periods as manufacturers struggled to maintain supplies.

This issue is set to be resolved soon as production levels have increased, said Vinkesh Gulati, Chairman of the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA).

Reporting brisk bookings for various Maruti Suzuki models — Baleno (1.5 lakh), New Brezza (1 lakh), Grand Vitara (50,000) and Ertiga (1.07 lakh) — have garnered. Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Officer, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, said, “We are constantly working towards minimising the waiting period for our products across different channels to ensure timely delivery to customers.”

Echoing this, Hardeep Singh Brar, Vice-President and Head of Sales and Marketing, Kia India, said, “Supply chain issues are easing off, and market sentiments remain bullish. We have a strong line-up of SUVs and RVs [recreational vehicles] that are dominating the consumer choice at present, and we have a healthy pent-up demand. Recently, we standardised six airbags in Seltos, making it the first vehicle in its segment to host this essential safety feature. With all these factors in play, we are optimistic that a good festive season is ahead of us in terms of sales.”

Tepid show for two-wheelers

FADA has over 15,000 member dealers. “There is a lag in supply but companies have achieved the pre-coronavirus production levels,” Gulati said.

Affirming the rise in demand for automobiles across segments, luxury carmaker Audi India reported a strong demand for its line-up, including RS (racing sport) models and the electric vehicle Audi e-tron. “India’s first EV supercars — the Audi  e-tron GT and Audi RS e-tron GT — are being loved by our customers and enthusiasts and we expect this to continue during the festive season,” said Balbir Singh Dhillon, Head of Audi India.

Reporting pre-pandemic level of sales, auto industry experts are projecting a double-digit growth during the festive season.

“The car segment is expecting huge growth during the festive season. The dealers have huge stock to meet this demand,” said Gulati.

Two-wheelers, on the other hand, are not in much demand this festive season. “The ground for two wheelers has not been great till now. The sales of cars will cross pre-pandemic levels but for two wheelers it looks difficult at present,” said Gulati

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