Car sales in India fell for the fourth straight month in January this year with a decline of 7.59 per cent, prompting industry body SIAM to seek government support in the upcoming interim Budget.

According to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), domestic car sales stood at 1,60,289 units in January this year compared to 1,73,449 vehicles in the same month of 2013.

Compounding the problem for the auto industry was the prolonged slump in the commercial vehicles (CV) segment, under which heavy and medium CVs saw 23rd month of consecutive drop in sales.

“The downward trend continues. There is no respite for the auto industry. We are having a huge hope from the government that in the vote-on-account Budget, there will be some support for the auto industry,” SIAM Deputy Director General Sugato Sen told reporters on the sidelines of Auto Expo in Greater Noida.

He said the situation now is worse than that in 2008-09, when the government had provided relief to the industry with policy support.

“We are hoping that there will be reduction in excise duty. For the CV segment, we have been asking for a fleet modernisation scheme and also implementation of load management,” Mr. Sen said but did not specify the exact amount of excise duty cut the industry body was expecting.

Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel has already written to the Finance Ministry seeking reduction in excise duty on CVs to 8 per cent from 12 per cent.

At present, automobiles attract excise duty ranging from 12-30 per cent, Mr. Sen said.

Reflecting the sluggish market, car market leader Maruti Suzuki India in January posted 6.88 per cent decline in its domestic sales at 82,461 units as against 88,557 in the same month last year.

Hyundai Motor India Ltd also posted 2.61 per cent dip in sales during the month at 33,351 units as compared to 34,247 vehicles in January last year. Homegrown Tata Motors saw its sales decline by 24.38 per cent to 8,463 units in January from 11,192 in the same month last year.

Honda Cars India, however, saw its sales increase nearly three-fold to 15,597 units in the month from 5,421 in January 2013.

Mr. Sen said the industry is hoping that “the positivity created by the Auto Expo with the 70 new unveilings and launches will at least help in exciting the market”.

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