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Year-end vehicle retail impacted by farmers’ protests

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NEW DELHI: Vehicle sales in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi-NCR have been adversely affected by the ongoing farmers’ protests in North India, industry executives and dealers have said.

The downswing in retail vehicle sales, which typically slow for a month starting middle of December as it is considered inauspicious in the Hindu calendar, have been made worse by weak consumer sentiment in the region, vehicle retailers said, without specifying the quantum of the impact.

“Movement of vehicles to showrooms in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi-NCR has been impacted. We have stocks at dealerships, but fast-moving models are sold out post the festive season. We are facing problems in receiving these vehicles…,” said Vinkesh Gulati, president of vehicle retailers’ body Federation of Automobile Dealers’ Association (FADA).

“This year, the impact has been more due to the farmers’ protests in the region. We cannot quantify the impact but there has been some hit,” Gulati added.

About 15% of passenger vehicle sales are registered in Delhi-NCR, Punjab and Haryana.

In the two-wheelers segment, where most of the demand for motorcycles come from rural markets, there has been a low single-digit decline in retail sales on account of the protests by farmers, said industry insiders.

“The farmers’ agitation has impacted retail sales in places like Delhi, Sahibabad, Ghaziabad, Punjab and Haryana. A lot of rural buyers are physically participating in the protests. They have received support in urban centres. Overall, consumer sentiment is getting affected in the region,” said Yadvinder Singh Guleria, director (sales and marketing) at Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI).

Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor India and Hero MotoCorp did not respond to queries seeking comment till press time on Friday.

The hit on retail vehicle sales comes at a time when automakers have been working to recover volumes after losses during the nationwide lockdown at the start of the fiscal year.

Vehicle registrations at regional transport offices (RTOs), which are a proxy for automobile retail sales, declined by 19.3% year-on-year in November, led by a 21.4% decline in two-wheeler registrations (to 1.41 million units), which account for four out of every five vehicles sold in India.

Commercial vehicles and three-wheeler registrations, too, were down by 31.2% (to 50,113 units) and 65% (to 24,185 units) compared to last year, as both the segments continued to reel from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sale of passenger vehicles, however, remained in positive territory in November, with registrations growing 4.2% to 291,001 units, as per data collated from the government’s Vahan portal by the FADA.

Meanwhile, wholesale passenger vehicle volumes (dispatches from factories to dealers) declined 21% to 1.48 million units in the first eight months of the ongoing fiscal year and those of two-wheelers by a fourth to 9.64 million units, according to data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

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