Maruti Suzuki, India’s top carmaker, said sales fell 7.1 percent in December from a year earlier as the company recovers from crippling strikes and falling demand that has seen rivals eat into its market share.
Carmakers in Asia’s third-largest economy are battling falling demand, particularly for smaller models that compete directly with motorcycles, due to rising input costs and high interest rates that are deterring first-time buyers.
Indian car sales growth in the year to end-March is expected to be flat, against 30 percent growth in the previous year, an industry body said last month.
Maruti, 54.2 percent owned by Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp, has seen sales slump since labour unrest last summer shut down its plants and resulted in $500 million of lost production. Sales fell 21 percent in September, 53 percent in October and 19 percent in November.
A year ago, Maruti accounted for every other car sold in India. Local rivals Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors have boosted their market share at the expense of Maruti since the strikes.
Mahindra, which mostly sells cars in the SUV segment, said sales jumped 26 percent in December.
“Mahindra has had this kind of growth throughout the fiscal year,” Pawan Goenka, president of Mahindra’s automotive and farm equipment sectors, told a news channel on Monday. “I cannot say this level of growth will continue, but right now we don’t see any signs of a slowdown for our products.”
Tata, part of the salt-to-steel Tata Group conglomerate, said on Sunday that December sales rose 22 percent from a year previously. Tata’s passenger car sales so far in the year to end-March are down 3 percent against a year previous, the company said in a statement.