MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Maruti Suzuki India's sales fell for the second straight month in December as a slump in exports and weak demand at home weighed on the nation's largest carmaker.
Total sales fell 1.3% to 128,338 units last month, the Suzuki Motor unit said in a statement on Tuesday. Domestic sales of Maruti's cars, minivans, and sport-utility vehicles grew just 1.8% to 121,479 units, aided by demand for the new version of the Ciaz midsize car. Exports plunged more than 36% to 6,859 units.
Sales of Ciaz almost doubled, while demand for Vitara Brezza SUV and Ertiga minivan increased 4.9%. Sales of Maruti's compact cars such as Swift and Baleno fell 3.8%, while that of mini cars Wagon R and Alto declined 14%, the company said.
Passenger vehicles sales in the south Asian nation had slipped into the slow lane since July amid several challenges, including the lingering effect of floods in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
The weak sales reflected a slowdown in the overall economy, as fuel prices rose and farm incomes dropped with declining food prices. A credit slowdown in the aftermath of a near meltdown at a major non-banking financial company in October also damped automobile demand.
Maruti was also affected by a week-long plant shutdown for maintenance, say analysts.
While retail passenger vehicle demand improved slightly from the very weak levels in October and November, inventory levels were still high at up to six weeks across segments at the start of last month, Nomura said in a report. The brokerage warned of a sharp decline in exports at Maruti due to year-end inventory reduction and a slowdown in retail markets.
Tata Motors reported an 8% decline in overall sales last month, weighed by a sharp fall in demand for commercial vehicles. Its compact cars and SUVs, including the new Nexon crossover, drove a 1% rise in domestic passenger vehicle sales.
Mahindra & Mahindra, India's second-largest SUV maker, reported a 1% gain in total December sales at 39,755 units. Sales of Mahindra's SUVs, cars, and vans declined 3% in the month.
In the domestic market, challenges relating to tight liquidity and low buying sentiment continue to hurt growth, Rajan Wadhera, president of the automotive unit of M&M, said in a statement. The company expects to "see good performance" in the fourth quarter, aided by a likely surge in rural demand because of the harvesting season and the launch of new sub-compact SUV XUV300 in February, Wadhera said.
Shares of Maruti rose 0.2%, while Mahindra lost 3.8% in Mumbai on Tuesday. Tata Motors added 0.6%. The benchmark Sensex index gained 0.5%.
--Dhanya Ann Thoppil