Car sales in India rose to 1,56,018 units in September, the highest level this fiscal, raising hopes of a rebound in the market, which has been reeling under a prolonged slump.
"The good news is that for cars, passenger vehicles, utility vehicles and two-wheelers, September was the best month in terms of absolute numbers this fiscal. I hope we can continue with this momentum," SIAM President Vikram Kirloskar told reporters here.
However, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), struck a cautious note, saying it was unlikely that passenger car sales would post positive growth this fiscal under current economic circumstances.
It said the decline of 4.67 percent in car sales in the first half of this fiscal was the worst since 2002-03, when sales dropped by 6.96 percent in the same period.
Asked if the September sales reflected a rebound in the market, Kirloskar said: "It is difficult to say, but we have had a good monsoon and some positives around." Kirloskar said it was unlikely for car sales to post positive growth this fiscal "unless something really nice happens in the festive season."
"I will be really happy if there is flat or even a slight positive growth this fiscal," he added.
Domestic passenger car sales grew 0.73 percent in September from 1,54,884 units a year earlier. Market leader Maruti Suzuki India posted a 14.52 percent growth in domestic sales at 78,975 units last month as against 68,957 units in the same period last year. Hyundai Motor India posted a marginal decline at 30,580 units compared with 30,795 units last year. Tata Motors' domestic sales dropped 42.99 percent to 9,766 units from 17,133 units.
Mahindra & Mahindra posted a 19.09 percent dip in utility vehicle sales at 18,019 units as against 22,272 units. Honda Cars India sales were up 85.64 percent to 10,220 units. Kirloskar said macroeconomic challenges such as high interest rates, inflation and fuel prices continue to affect consumer sentiment. Kirloskar said employment of contract workers and trainees across the chain in the industry from component suppliers to manufacturers to dealers has been affected "significantly."
On the stimulus package that the industry has sought from the government, he said: "We are trying very hard to explain to the government." In August, domestic car sales rose 15.37 percent to 1,33,486 units, ending a record nine-month slump in sales.