In light of the ongoing nationwide lockdown due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, automakers have, unsurprisingly, recorded zero sales in the month of April. In a first for the Indian automotive industry, automakers are reporting zero monthly domestic sales. Carmakers like Toyota and Mahindra noted that they sold no passenger vehicles in the country last month.
Earlier we had reported a similar story about the country’s largest car manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki. Now other major manufacturers are coming up with the same domestic sales figure. Hyundai Motor India has come out with official sales numbers for the month of April 2020. However, with the imposed lockdown nationwide which forced Hyundai to suspend production and retail activities, the company’s domestic sales stood at zero units last month. However, due to the resumption of port operations, Hyundai was able to export 1,341 units in April 2020, surpassing Maruti Suzuki, which exported 632 units, to become the largest carmaker in India in terms of monthly numbers.
Is It Across All Car Manufacturers?
Adding to that, in April 2020, Hyundai’s exports fell by 92 percent, as compared to the 16,800 vehicles exported during the same month in 2019. Hyundai has confirmed that all the export shipping was conducted in accordance with the guidelines set by the government and export regulating authorities, ensuring adequate safety and protection for everyone.
Another major homegrown car and SUV manufacturer, Mahindra registered similar numbers. Mahindra & Mahindra noted that its domestic sales figure also stood at zero, for the first time, for the passenger vehicle segment. This is a direct result of the nationwide lockdown issued on March 25, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, leading to the suspension of both vehicle production and sales in India for the entire month.
However, due to the resumption of port operations, the company was able to export 733 vehicles in April 2020. Although, Mahindra saw a decline of 65 percent in exports, as compared to the 2,118 units exported during the same month in 2019. The commercial vehicle segment also narrated the same story. The Light Commercial Vehicle(LCV) segment and the Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicle Segment(MHCV) segment domestic sales figures also stood at zero.
Commenting on the situation, Veejay Nakra, Chief Executive Officer, Automotive Division, Mahindra & Mahindra said, “At Mahindra, we are working hand in hand with all stakeholders, especially our dealer and supplier partners, to get our ecosystem started, once the lockdown is lifted. The safety of all our employees will be of paramount importance to us while resuming our operations. We are hopeful that our dealerships will open soon and have stocks to cover the first few weeks of sale. In the export market, we have sold 733 vehicles during April”.
Another Japanese Indian joint venture, Toyota Kirloskar Motor(TKM) had to bear the same brunt. The company’s closure of dealerships and manufacturing operation of the automotive value chain has come to a grinding halt, it says in these critical times, it was aware that there would be no wholesales in the month of April 2020.
Naveen Soni, Senior Vice President, Sales & Services, Toyota Kirloskar Motor said, “COVID crisis exacerbated the already prevalent pressures on the automobile industry but the challenges this time are multi-dimensional. The lockdown was absolutely necessary and a timely step was taken by the Government to ensure the safety and well-being of people, however, the unavoidable side effect of this medicine has been the severe adverse impact on the economic activity.”
However, in the midst of the gloom, the company also shared some positive news. The company was happy to report that there has been some movement in the market as dealers are receiving some enquiries and the company will ensure that these customers are catered to as soon as we begin operations. To gain customer confidence provisions have been made to entirely digitalize the sales process which includes 360-degree product views for the customer to take a virtual tour of the vehicle, select financing options and receive a quotation online. The vehicle will be delivered to the customer’s doorstep once the purchase is completed.
Needless to say, the automobile industry has become one of the biggest casualties of the ongoing lockdown enforced by the Coronavirus pandemic. Even when the lockdown is lifted, carmakers are not hoping for a spike in vehicle sales because people will avoid flocking dealerships and will prefer online routes to buy new vehicles. Furthermore, even automobile production will also remain low initially because of a possible shortage of components.