Boosted by festive season purchases, domestic car sales increased by 23.09 per cent to 1.72 lakh units in October 2012, the highest growth rate in nearly two years.

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), however, downplayed the feat saying that the growth was on a low base of 1.40 lakh units in the same month last year and the automotive industry continued to face challenges in pushing sales.

“The car sales growth rate that we have achieved this October is the highest since January 2011, which was 25.27 per cent. In terms of volumes, this is the highest since March this year when it was 2.30 lakh units,” SIAM Director-General Vishnu Mathur told reporters here.

However, he said it was too early to rejoice for the industry as high interest rates and fuel prices, uncertain economic environment and low consumer sentiments still prevails and it has started affecting even the rural markets.

“Compared to the last four months, we have a good growth. This is, of course, due to festival season but this is on a very low base of October last year,” Mr. Mathur added.

On a comparative basis of the festive season sales between last year, which was mainly in September, and this year, he said the sales growth had been marginal.

“If we compare September last year and October this year, the growth is just 3.6 per cent. So, once the festive season is over we will face the challenge again and next month will be critical,” Mr. Mathur said, adding sales in September last year was 1.66 lakh units. Utility vehicles (UV) segment saw a surge in domestic sales at 53,285 units, up 87.74 per cent from last year. The growth was led by Mahindra & Mahindra with its UV sales in October this year registering 49.9 per cent growth at 25,379 units against 16,938 units in the same month last year.

As per the SIAM data, domestic motorcycle sales last month went up by 6.71 per cent to 9.36 lakh units from 8.77 lakh units in the same month in the previous year.

Total scooter sales during the month under review stood at 2.79 lakh units as against 2.11 lakh units in October 2011, up 32.39 per cent.

“Sales of scooters have been driven mainly from urban demand and we are seeing good traction in the segment. We are also seeing a trend of lot of women buyers,” Mr. Mathur said.

The three-wheeler segment saw sales increase by 55,241 units in October this year, up 12.58 per cent.

SIAM said the total two-wheeler sales in October 2012 rose by 12.26 per cent to 12.85 lakh units from 11.45 lakh units in October 2011.

In the commercial vehicles segment, sales were up by 7.59 per cent at 66,722 units in October against 62,013 units in the year-ago period.

Total sales of vehicles across categories registered an increase of 14.81 per cent at 16.53 lakh units last month as against 14.40 lakh units in October 2011, it added.

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