Auto sales shrink in May as showrooms and factories remain closed on Covid curbs

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New Delhi: Automobile sales in the local market in May shrank to just over a third of the previous month, as showrooms and factories remained closed or operated at reduced capacities due to lockdowns in several states.

As many as 88,045 passenger vehicles were sold last month, compared with 261,633 units in April, according to data released on Friday by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). In May last year, sales were lower at 33,546 units, as unlocking had just started for the industry after the nationwide lockdown of over a month.

The SIAM numbers are of dispatches from factories to dealerships and not the retail sales, and exclude the volume data of

that has stopped reporting to the industry body every month.

Sales of three-wheelers last month fell to 1,251 units from 2,437 units in May 2020. Wholesale volumes of two-wheelers totalled 352,717 units, higher than 279,682 units a year earlier. While sales of motorcycles rose to 295,257 units from 197,378, those of scooters fell to 50,294 units from 69,196.

Several leading automakers had advanced annual maintenance shutdowns or temporarily suspended operations at their manufacturing units last month, due to the lockdowns and to divert oxygen for medical purposes amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.

“Most of May was under lockdown in many states, thus impacting overall sales and production. Many members had shut down their manufacturing plants to divert oxygen from industrial use for medical purposes,” said SIAM director-general Rajesh Menon.

Since both May 2020 and May 2021 were abnormal months because of the Covid-19 situation and lockdowns, a comparison of these two months holds no meaning, he said.

From May 2019, which was a normal month, sales in May this year fell more than 61% for passenger vehicles and nearly 80% for two-wheelers, Menon said. Three-wheeler sales last month were just about 2.5% of the volume in May 2019.

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