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This week in Auto: 2020 was a forgettable year, welcome 2021?

Here is a complete look at all other stories that made headlines in the auto space

December 26, 2020 / 10:16 AM IST

The year 2020 will go down as year like no other. From zero sales in April to factories hitting peak capacities in October – all within a span of seven months – 2020 has been a tumultuous year for the auto industry. In today’s final wrap of the year we take a look at what 2020 brought with itself. But first here is a complete look at all other stories that made headlines in the auto space.

Sonalika Tractors launches electric tractor

Sonalika Tractors on Wednesday launched the country's first field-ready electric tractor 'Tiger,' powered by a 25.5 kW natural cooling compact battery, which gives much lower running costs compared to a diesel tractor, priced at Rs 5.99 lakh (ex-showroom).

Equipped with the Sonalika transmission, the field ready e-tractor offers a top speed of 24.93 kmph and a battery backup of eight hours while operating with a two-tonne trolley. As an option, the company is also offering a fast charging system with which it could be charged in just four hours.

Honda stops car production at Greater Noida


Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL) on December 23 said it had stopped production at its Greater Noida facility to realign its manufacturing operations with the goal of improving business efficiency.

"In order to maintain sustainability of operations by leveraging production and supply chain efficiencies, HCIL has decided to consolidate manufacturing operations for vehicles and components at its Tapukara plant in Rajasthan with immediate effect for all domestic sales and exports," the carmaker said in a statement.

German regulator fines Bharat Forge

Three companies of Bharat Forge are among several aluminium forging companies in Germany which will pay an aggregate of Euro 175 million for "engaging in illegal competitive agreements".

Germany's national competition regulator – Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office) - announced the fines on Bharat Forge Aluminiumtechnik GmbH, Bharat Forge CDP GmbH, and Bharat Forge Global Holding GmbH in connection with two separate proceedings.

US regulator allows M&M to sell Roxor

A U.S. regulator ruled on Wednesday that Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd’s new design for its Roxor off-road utility vehicle did not infringe the intellectual property rights of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Jeep brand, six months after barring the sale of older models.

The International Trade Commission (ITC) said the post-2020 Roxor model did not violate the “trade dress” of FCA’s Jeep Wrangler SUV, accepting an administrative law judge’s October recommendation that design changes made by Mahindra meant an earlier cease-and-desist order should not apply to newer models.

SsangYong files for bankruptcy

Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) on Monday said its loss-making South Korean arm SsangYong Motor Company (SYMC) has filed for bankruptcy.

The SYMC has filed an application for commencement of rehabilitation procedure with the Seoul Bankruptcy Court under the Debtor Rehabilitation and Bankruptcy Act of South Korea, M&M said in a regulatory filing.

More automakers announce price hikes

Buoyed by a sustained pull in demand for the fourth consecutive month, automotive companies will institute a price hike in January to offset input cost pressures and improve their sagging profit margins.

BMW, Tata Motors (commercial vehicles), Nissan, Volkswagen and Mahindra (tractors) have joined the league in announcing price hikes. Maruti Suzuki, Renault, Ford, Mahindra (PV and CV) and Isuzu have already announced price hikes.

2020 was a forgettable year, welcome 2021?

Factories were ordered shut overnight, public movements were banned, employees were laid off, companies were asked not to cut salaries and the deadly coronavirus managed to perforate manufacturing plants despite all precautions taken by the companies.

This situation which hit the Indian automotive sector was unthinkable same time last year when the buzz word was Bharat Stage VI and the slowdown in retail demand it was expected to bring with itself.

As automotive companies prepared to close December 2019 before welcoming 2020 the biggest concern of the industry was to regulate production of BS-IV and simultaneously push BS-VI products in to the market. As BS-VI was thought to be pulling down retail demand due to its higher price tag, the chorus to bring down the GST hit the roof.

While April was spent under total lockdown situation began to ease out a bit only in the second half of May. But the restart is the hardest part in the automotive industry since car makers are not the exclusive representatives of the auto industry. If any of the other cogs like all tiers of component manufacturers, dealers, service centers, logistics do not operate in sync then the wheel cannot move.

With a start-stop situation extending right till September no auto company was able to provide an outlook for the rest of the year. Even providing a retail demand guidance was out of the question. But the festive days brought demand back on the table with vitality.

Car demand recorded their best month in October and November. Sales during the festive days were better than last year’s festive days. Car and two-wheeler factories were running at 100 percent capacities, dealers were running out of stock and discounts came down dramatically.

Senior industry watchers believe that the final quarter will be better than earlier expected. Companies have already sent out invitations of new product launches happening in January. Most product development plans suffered a delay of just around three months and are back on track more vigorously than before. Investment which were cut at the start of the year have been reinstated.

2021 will be a vital year for the industry as it will have to not only make up for the loss of sales in 2020 but it will have to perform better than 2019. But will the economy keep buzzing and help maintain the high momentum?
Swaraj Baggonkar
first published: Dec 26, 2020 10:16 am
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