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Automobiles

India auto sales rebound 15% but miss pre-pandemic mark

Chip shortage still the immediate challenge, industry group chair says

An auto dealership in Mumbai. Passenger vehicle sales grew 13% on the year in India for the year to March, albeit from a low base. (Photo by Ryosuke Hanada)

MUMBAI -- New-auto sales in India rose for the first time in three years in the 12 months ended March, but the market remained weaker than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 3.78 million passenger and commercial vehicles were sold in fiscal 2021, up 15% on the year, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

Despite the rebound from fiscal 2020, when a nationwide lockdown led to unprecedented drops in auto production and sales, total sales came in 14% below the fiscal 2018 tally.

"The year gone by was full of unforeseen challenges and new learning for the industry," said SIAM President Kenichi Ayukawa, executive vice chairman at market leader Maruti Suzuki, in a news release.

"Despite some recovery from a low base," segment sales were "below even 2018-19 level," he said.

Passenger vehicle sales gained 13% to just over 3 million.

Maruti Suzuki India maintained its lead in this segment, with a 3% rise to roughly 1.33 million autos, followed by Hyundai Motor India, whose sales increased 2% to about 480,000. Tata Motors logged a 66% jump to about 370,000, thanks to strong demand for sport utility vehicles.

Sales of commercial vehicles rose 26%, led by Tata and compatriot Mahindra & Mahindra.

A global chip shortage has hamstrung the auto industry around the world. Many automakers in India had to cut output, and saw lower sales, in the second half of last fiscal year.

The "immediate challenge in most segments is semiconductor availability," Ayukawa said.

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