Boosted by festival demand and cheap loan rates to consumers, Indian vehicle sales roared ahead in September, industry figures showed on Oct. 1.
Japanese-controlled Maruti Suzuki India, South Korea's Hyundai Motor and India's Mahindra and Mahindra announced higher sales of cars and sports utility vehicles last month, pointing to renewed buoyancy in the Indian economy.
"We are not able to supply cars to customers" to meet full demand, said Maruti Suzuki India's chief marketing manager Shashank Srivastava. Maruti sells two out of every three cars in India.
Its sales jumped 17.3% from a year earlier to 83,306 vehicles in September, helped by stronger domestic and foreign demand. Maruti's domestic sales jumped by 11% to 71,594 vehicles and its exports soared by 85% to 11,712 vehicles.
Its passenger car sales rose by 11.7% to 71,368 units.
Purchases of new vehicles traditionally rise during India's religious festival season which began in late September and will last until December. Many Indians regard the festival period as an auspicious time to make big purchases.
Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor India announced record monthly sales of 53,804 vehicles in September, a rise of 16% from a year earlier. Hyundai "recorded the highest figures in our 11 years of operation," said Hyundai India senior vice president Arvind Saxena.
Mahindra, the top utility vehicle maker in India, reported an 11% rise in total sales in September to a record 28,134 units. Domestic sales of Mahindra automobiles rose 12% to 27,431 in September, the highest-ever monthly sales, but exports declined 26% to 703 units.
Also, domestic sales of Mahindra's mid-size Logan sedan, made in tandem with French carmaker Renault, slid 71% to 510 cars.
Maruti's Srivastava warned that any rise in record low interest rates could slow the industry's growth. "If inflation goes up, then interest rates may also go up. In that case, we may see a dampening of sales," Srivastava said.
Annual inflation accelerated sharply during the past week to a higher-than-expected 0.83% as the weakest monsoon in decades helped drive up food prices, official data showed on Oct. 1.
Still, analysts say India holds huge promise for global automakers as the country of nearly 1.2 billion people has one of the world's least penetrated car markets.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009