Concerned over prolonged fall in auto sales, Heavy Industry Minister Praful Patel on Thursday asked for a cut in excise duty on commercial vehicles as part of a stimulus package to revive the sector.

“It is very important that we have stimulus package for the entire automobile industry. All segments of the industry are facing slowdown. In some cases, even a reduction in the figures of production. So, this is not a happy sign. I am talking to the Finance Minister and have spoken to him and will be further meeting him over the next few days to seek what best we can do. It is important, not only from excise point of view but also looking at various ways,” Mr. Patel told reporters at the Auto Expo.

Mr. Patel has written to the Finance Minister to cut the excise duty on commercial vehicles from 12 per cent to 8 per cent immediately.

Annual car sales in India declined for the first time in 11 years in 2013, posting a 9.59 per cent dip as the auto industry reeled under a prolonged demand slump due to economic slowdown.

Highlighting the slowdown, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) had said that car sales in India had been in the positive territory only for three of the past 17 months — October 2012, August and September 2013.

Mr. Patel said the government is also looking at extending incentives to phase out older vehicles.

“It would be very useful for people to come in and buy newer vehicles, especially I would say in the heavy commercial vehicle segment,” he added.

“In would not be very happy to see the trends of the industry because there has been a temporary roadblock in terms of growth. There has been a reversal of trend. The very healthy CAGR has been unfortunately hit the bad times,” he added.

He said it is important for the government to recognise the slowdown and take steps to contain this.

“It is important that we take right measures and give the right incentives. I have been in constant engagement with the Ministry of Finance to see that we are able to bring some kind of energy or stimulus to this entire sector,” Mr. Patel said, while inaugurating the Auto Expo in a hall which was almost half empty, perhaps reflecting the struggles auto makers are facing to woo consumers.

More In: Industry | Business