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Indian luxury car market set to register a record 40% decline in 2020

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MUMBAI: The Indian car market may be witnessing a sharp turnaround, driven by strong demand for entry-level models, but the story isn’t pretty when it comes to the luxury segment.

The Indian luxury car market is bracing for its steepest recorded decline in 2020, with the industry estimating sales to fall as much as 40%, pulling it down to the levels of 2011. While Covid-19 has led many middle-class families to opt for personal mobility, triggering demand for entry-level cars, the impact of the pandemic on the economy and businesses has forced wealthy individuals and companies to cut down on discretionary spending, such as on luxury vehicles.

Sales had fallen 35% during the January-March period, while much of the following quarter was lost due to Covid-19 and the lockdown. Industry insiders said sales so far were down 50-55% from last year. They hope some support would come from festive demand.

According to several people in the know, only 10,000-11,500 luxury cars were sold in the first eight months of 2020. The only glimmer of hope is, with the unlocking, there is a month-on-month recovery in sales across luxury car brands. Yet, the industry at best may deliver sales of 21,000-22,000 units compared with 35,000 units in 2019.

The market leader, Mercedes-Benz, said there was a sequential recovery in monthly sales and that the maker of the S Class had reached 60% of pre-Covid levels in July and August. However, for the full year, it expects the market to decline by more than 40%.

It will take at least two to three years for the market to recover the lost volume, Mercedes-Benz India managing director Martin Schwenk said. “The sales recovery is steady with 20-25% month-on-month growth for July to August … We see now a growing momentum with customers starting to ‘unlock’ and to look forward to the festive season. We will try to reach close to last year’s festive season volume,” added Schwenk.

Despite having a large number of millionaires, the penetration level of luxury cars in India is considered to be among the lowest in large economies. The share of luxury cars in the overall market, in fact, has come down from 1.2% in 2019 to about 0.9% now. Industry executives expect sales to start growing only in 2021, that too because of comparison with the low numbers of this year.

Audi India head Balbir Singh Dhillon said the automotive industry had lost significant volume during the pandemic, which was not recoverable this year. He is hopeful of a recovery next year.

Interestingly, his company registered the highest ever sales of its Audi A6 sedan in August, having launched the vehicle in October of 2019. “What that tells us is, while the pandemic is far from over, there is a growing optimism among buyers and this is translating into sales on the ground,” Dhillon said.

With the evolving market situation and the addition of new products, luxury car makers like Audi and Volvo expect increased footfalls in showrooms. Close to a dozen new products are likely to hit the roads across luxury car makers this festive season.

Volvo Cars India managing director Charles Frump said he was optimistic on the festive season and expected demand momentum to accelerate in the coming months.

“We are cautiously optimistic and hope for growth in 2021. We are coming up with exciting products in addition to capturing the pent-up demand through various initiatives. We expect to get back to 2019 levels or thereabout in 2021,” added Frump.

The local units of Jaguar Land Rover and BMW did not respond to emails seeking comment.

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Tata Motors crosses 40 lakh cumulative production milestone

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NEW DELHI: Auto major Tata Motors on Saturday said its passenger vehicle vertical has crossed 40 lakh cumulative production milestone, nearly three decades after it rolled out its first model in the segment – Tata Sierra SUV in 1991. The company, which over the years has produced models like the Indica, Sierra, Sumo, Safari and the Nano, had achieved the 10 lakh production mark for passenger vehicles in 2005-06 and 30 lakh milestone in 2015.

“This is a very significant milestone for Tata Motors. Very few players in the industry have reached such a milestone. This has been a long journey since we rolled out Tata Sierra in 1991,” Tata Motors President Passenger Vehicles Business Unit (PVBU) Shailesh Chandra told .

Over the years, the company always challenged the conventions and brought in many path breaking products, many times first in the market, like Sierra, Estate, Safari, Indica and the Nano, he added.

With Sierra, the company took its first shot at the SUV segment in the country. The company consolidated it further with Safari.

Further in honour of the legacy of Sumant Moolgaonkar, Tata Motors introduced the first ever multi purpose vehicle in Tata Sumo. With Indica, the company changed the customer perception in terms of how a passenger vehicle is received.

The company set up the PVBU vertical in 1998 and the first product to roll out under its aegis was Indica.

“It was the first indigenously developed car and since then we have always challenged conventions and have strived to bring in technologies which are supportive of the cause of the nation, whether it is safety or things related to sustainability,” Chandra noted.

The company has been focussing not only on the safety aspect of its vehicles but has also been leading the electric vehicle space in the country, he said.

“We have brought a paradigm shift to the industry that safety is also important otherwise it was not taken that seriously and to ensure that we were also the first company to commission crash safety testing in the country,” Chandra said.

The company’s compact SUV Nexon was the first model in the country to receive a 5-star rating from Global Ncap. Tata Motors is also the country’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer with 67 per cent market share.

It currently sells Nexon EV and two trims of Tigor, with different range, in the electric vehicle segment. The company also has ambitious plans to launch further electrified models in the future, with an electric version of its premium hatchback Altroz next in the line.

Chandra said with greater acceptance of its current model line up, the company would be able to reach the next 10 lakh production mark in much lesser time.

“It will take us a shorter time to achieve the next one million production mark. This should be on the back of the Indian growth story as well.

“So the industry should also reach higher peaks. It has been growing, barring last year and this year as well due to the pandemic, but the underlined fundamentals of the passenger vehicle industry remain intact whether it is from penetration perspective or buying capacity of people,” Chandra said.

From all the angles the growth story should come back as the economy also stabilises post pandemic, he added.

“So on the back of that growth and certain actions that we are taking to strengthen our product portfolio and the traction we are already seeing, I am sure the next one million should be faster then three to four million mark,” Chandra said.

The company now sells five BSVI compliant models — Tiago, Tigor, Nexon, Harrier and the Altroz.

Tata Motors has manufacturing facilities at Chikhali, Pune; Sanand in Gujarat; and a joint venture plant with Fiat at Ranjangaon in Pune.


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Delhi: Purchased an electric vehicle after Aug 7? Log in to apply for subsidy

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(This story originally appeared in on Oct 24, 2020)

New Delhi: Transport minister Kailash Gahlot on Friday launched a portal for seamless disbursal of subsidy to buyers of electric vehicles.

The incentives would be applicable for all vehicles registered after August 7, when the policy was notified, while road tax deduction would be valid from October 10 and registration fee exemptions from October 15. Electric vehicles dealers can log on ev.delhi.gov.in and apply for subsidy.

“The entire process is simple and hassle-free. The transport department has approved over 100 EV models that will be eligible for subsidy. Till now, 36 manufacturers and 98 dealers have registered with us,” said Gahlot.

The minister added that the EV policy was one of the key actions announced by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in the war against pollution. The policy has been welcomed by all stakeholders. We are attempting to implement everything under this policy in the best way possible. On October 10, it was decided to exempt road tax. Five days later, registration charges were exempted,” Gahlot added.

The 100 models comprise 14 electric two-wheelers made by Hero Electric, Okinawa, Ampere, Jitendra New EV Tech and Li-ions Electrik, 12 electric four-wheelers made by Tata and Mahindra, four electric autos by Mahindra, Piaggio and Saarthi, 45 e-rickshaws and 17 e-carts.

“The buyer will be informed about the progress and status of the claim application through regular SMS updates. The transport department will have a dashboard through which it will track the number of applications received and those pending approval at the individual office level. Real-time tracking has also been put in place,” Gahlot said.

The website has also listed electric vehicle dealers across the city and charging stations with Google map location in each district.

Jasmine Shah, vice-chairperson of Dialogue and Development Commission, said tariffs for charging electric vehicles on low tension would be Rs 4.5 per unit and Rs 5 per unit for high tension. “This is the lowest tariff in India. Service charge would be added depending on the charging facility,” he added. Currently, Delhi has 70 charging stations.


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GM and Ford stock are outpacing high-momentum Tesla shares this month

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After a nearly 400% rally this year, Tesla‘s stock is tapping the brakes. The stock is down 3% this month even after another blowout quarterly report.

That has given traditional automaker stocks time to play catch-up. General Motors has surged 27% in October, while Ford is not far behind with a 24% gain.

That’s not the only way the old-school auto companies are bridging the gap, according to Gina Sanchez, founder and CEO of Chantico Global and chief market strategist for Lido Advisors.

“The problem that Tesla has is that GM, Ford, Volkswagen, they’re all waking up and saying, ‘Hey, we need to get into this [electric vehicle] game.’ And if you look at Europe as a kind of litmus test, Europe just topped 500,000 units sold for EVs, and Tesla was not among the top, which tells you that there’s competition now in this space,” Sanchez told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Thursday.

Global electric vehicle sales are expected to climb by 36% in 2021, surpassing 3 million total units, according to Cairn Energy Research Advisors. GM and Ford have pivoted to expand research and production in the space — General Motors, for example, unveiled an EV Hummer earlier this week.

“Tesla has basically shown everyone that EV is a space that they need to be in, and now they’re competing against old-school companies like GM,” said Sanchez.

Quint Tatro, president of Joule Financial, said pitting Tesla against GM and Ford is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

“I know they all make cars, but I don’t even like lumping GM, Ford and Tesla together,” Tatro said during the same “Trading Nation” segment. “Tesla has so much going for it that’s just outside the automobile. I think if you’re buying Tesla here, you’re buying it for the ability for the company to unlock future value through their batteries, future technology that’s coming down the pike.”

Its position at the cross-section of auto production and tech makes it a different beast, Tatro said.

“It’s always been virtually impossible to value this company. And I tell folks, you know this is a company where you believe in [CEO Elon Musk], you believe in the technology, you buy it when everybody thinks that there’s trouble and then you just hold it, and you don’t trade it,” said Tatro.

GM and Ford, on the other hand, may have been overdue for a bounce after tumbling at the beginning of the year, Tatro said.

“They just got too cheap,” said Tatro. “They have much better balance sheets over the years, they’ve been improving, and, as Gina said, they’re coming strong with the EV game, so they’ve got a little bit of momentum. So it’s been a kind of a perfect storm to see money move in looking for value.”

GM trades at 8 times forward earnings, Ford at 13.5 times, and Tesla at 129 times.

Disclosure: Joule Financial holds shares in Ford and Tesla.

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