India car sales record worst-ever fall

MUMBAI: Passenger car sales in India plunged by 41 percent in their worst monthly fall on record, data showed yesterday, as the weakening economy hit demand and manufacturers called for government relief. It was the tenth straight month of falls in car sales amid soft consumer demand in Asia’s third-largest economy, where growth slowed for the fifth straight quarter in the April-to-June period to 5.0 percent.

Figures from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers showed that domestic sales tumbled to 115,957 in August from 196,847 a year ago, the sharpest fall since the organization started recording data in 1997-98, a spokesman said. Sales of commercial vehicles tumbled by 39 percent, while motorcycles and scooters dropped by 22 percent, the data showed.

Indian auto manufacturing giants Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland and Mahindra & Mahindra have slashed production amid the slowdown. Thousands of jobs have also been lost across the sector. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in August lifted a ban on purchasing new vehicles by government departments, but carmakers are calling for further support from New Delhi. SIAM president Rajan Wadhera said last week the government needed to take “urgent” action such as cutting taxes on car sales to boost demand ahead of the busy festive season.- AFP

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