Auto sales zoom in May

New Delhi, June 1 (IANS) Auto companies in India had a bull run in May with record sales numbers in virtually every segment, from bikes to commercial vehicles, and the industry expects consumer demand to sustain following the overall economic expansion.

Both passenger car maker Maruti Suzuki and two-wheeler major Hero Honda recorded highest-ever monthly sales.

Maruti Suzuki reported a 27.9 percent jump in sales for May at 102,175 units compared to 79,872 vehicles it sold in the year-ago period.

This is the first time the car maker has ever sold over 100,000 units in a month, its previous highest monthly sale figure being 96,650 units in February.

The second largest car manufacturer in the country, Hyundai saw domestic sales rise 15.5 percent to 27,151 vehicles, compared to May 2009. Exports, however, fell due to a planned annual maintenance shutdown pulling down production volumes.

Sales of passenger vehicles in the domestic market from the Tata Motor stable (including 2,163 units from Fiat of whom the Indian major is a distributor) increased 42 percent to 23,489 units, compared to 16,563 in the year-ago period.

General Motors too reported robust growth in sales for May with its small car Chevrolet Spark and newly launched hatchback Chevrolet Beat, accounting for more than half the cars the company sold.

GM sold 8,225 units during the month under review, an increase of 61 percent over May 2009.

Two-wheelers too seem to having a ball this summer. Leading manufacturer Hero Honda’s sales jumped 14 percent to 4,35,933 units compared to 3,82,678 units in May last year.

Bajaj Auto reported a 62 percent rise in total sales for May at 299,442 units, compared to 185,341 vehicles it sold in the year-ago period.

An economy back on the high growth trajectory, easy availability of credit, and a marriage season in the north are being cited as the main reasons behind the rise in sales.

Sale of commercial vehicles too appreciated robustly with the segment leader, Tata Motors selling 31,475 vehicles, a 37 percent growth against 23,004 vehicles sold in May last year.

However, analysts say firming up of commodity prices and a possible hike in key policy rates by the Reserve Bank of India which could jack up lending rates on auto loans could act as a drag on profitability.

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