Retail car sales rose by nearly 10% year-on-year in September 2020 as people chose personal mobility over public transport amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a dealers’ lobby has said.

India’s auto sector, which contributes more than 7% to the nation’s gross domestic product, was grappling with a protracted slowdown when the coronavirus lockdown completely stalled operations. After a washout in April, sales revived in subsequent months as stay-at-home restrictions eased.

That nascent revival gathered momentum last month.

According to the Federation of Automobile Dealers’ Association, 1,95,665 passenger vehicles were sold in September 2020, a 9.81% increase from the 1,78,189 units sold a year ago. The dealers’ lobby collects vehicle registration data from 1,254 out of 1,461 regional transport offices in India for its monthly sales numbers.

  • Two-wheeler sales fell 12.62% year-on-year to 10,16,977 units in September.
  • Commercial vehicle sales declined 33.65% year-on-year to 39,600 units.
  • Three-wheeler sales fell 58.86% from the year-ago period to 24,060 units.
  • Tractor sales grew 80.39% year-on-year to 68,564 units last month.

Total sales across categories declined 10.24% to 13,44,866 units last month as against 14,98,283 units in the year-ago period.

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“With social distancing in customers’ minds, coupled with the government’s push to further normalise business conditions and banks becoming more considerate for vehicle finance, entry-level passenger vehicles saw good demand, thus indicating a preference for personal mobility over public transport,” FADA President Vinkesh Gulati said in a statement on Thursday.

While new car launches and ready availability of vehicles played their part, a lower base during the last fiscal reflected in healthier auto sales data, he said.

“The top states which make up half of India’s economic output—Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and West Bengal—are now showing signs of revival as economic activities in these states are at its peak since lockdown began in March. This has also helped in creating a demand for automobile sales,” he said.

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With no more lockdowns in sight, FADA now anticipates a high growth period during October and November for auto sales in India, Gulati said.

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