June 11, 2014 3:19 am JST

Passenger car sales up in India after long decline

TAKAFUMI HOTTA, Nikkei staff writer

MUMBAI -- Indian sales of passenger vehicles climbed 3% on the year to 207,953 units in May, the first positive movement in nine months, as hopes for economic reform under new Prime Minister Narendra Modi started to thaw consumer sentiment.

     Total sales of passenger and commercial vehicles slid for an 18th straight month, falling 1% to 254,939 units, according to figures released Tuesday by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Although commercial vehicles remained weak, brisk sales of passenger cars narrowed the overall loss from its recent double-digit levels.

     Clear winners and losers emerged among companies. Sales of passenger vehicles rose 16% for Maruti Suzuki, India's top automaker, and 13% for No. 2 player Hyundai Motor. Nissan Motor, which rolled out the first car under its emerging-market Datsun brand in March, saw sales more than double. Toyota Motor's local unit logged an 18% increase.

     Meanwhile, sales tumbled 30% for Tata Motors, which has fared poorly with new cars, and 48% for Volkswagen.