Car sales in India posted the slowest growth rate in 22 months in April this year at 13.18 per cent as rising interest rates and declining consumer confidence impacted automobile sales across the country.

According to figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) today, domestic passenger car sales stood at 1,62,825 units in April, as against 1,43,862 units in the same month last year.

“The April, 2011, sales growth rate was the slowest since June, 2009, when the growth rate was 8.23 per cent. Consumer confidence is low as economic parameters are wobbly at the moment,” SIAM Senior Director Sugato Sen told reporters here.

He said interest rate hikes, coupled with the increase in prices of vehicle due to rising commodity prices, have also contributed to postponing of purchases.

Total sales of vehicles across categories registered a growth of 22.80 per cent to 13,38,564 units in April as against 10,90,041 units in the same month last year, SIAM said.

In the passenger car segment, market leader Maruti Suzuki’s sales grew by 7.63 per cent to 73,905 units. Rival Hyundai Motor India’s sales increased by 10.89 per cent to 31,604 units.

However, homegrown auto major Tata Motors’ passenger car sales were down by 1.10 per cent at 19,544 units.

Total two—wheeler sales last month increased by 26.44 per cent to 10,43,970 units from 8,25,632 units in April, 2010.

According to the SIAM data, motorcycle sales in the country grew by 23.39 per cent during the month to 8,09,565 units from 6,56,096 units in the same month last year.

In this segment, market leader Hero Honda posted a 38.58 per cent jump in sales to 4,69,398 units. Rival Bajaj Auto’s sales went up by 4.24 per cent to 1,95,971 units.

Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) posted a 1.35 per cent decline in sales to 57,237 units, while TVS Motor moved 49,804 units, 1.62 per cent more than the corresponding month of the previous year.

The scooter segment’s overall sales grew by 48.06 per cent to 1,75,054 units from 1,18,232 units.

HMSI’s scooter sales grew by 79.52 per cent to 74,432 units, while Hero Honda sold 35,079 units, up 48.13 per cent.

TVS Motor’s sales saw 29.04 per cent growth during the month to 32,464 units.

Commercial vehicles sales grew by 8.22 per cent to 53,202 units from 49,162 units in the year—ago period, SIAM said.

Sen said this was the slowest growth rate since September, 2009, when the growth rate was 7.49 per cent.

Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicle (M&HCV) sales increased marginally to 22,391 units during the month, compared to 22,236 units in April last year.

According to SIAM, light commercial vehicle (LCV) sales grew 14.43 per cent to 30,811 units in April, 2011, from 26,926 units in April, 2010.

Sen said the sales growth rate of commercial vehicles, an indicator of economic growth, is showing that “some concerns are coming“.

“In the passenger carriers segment, the industry has a major problem with companies having issues with various states over purchases of buses under the JNNURM,” he said.

Some states have not honoured order commitments while some have not paid companies after taking deliveries, he added.

Passenger carrier sales in the M&HCV category slid by 20.08 per cent to 2,667 units in April, while in the LCV segment, sales declined by 25.89 per cent in April this year to 3,321 units, SIAM said.

In the three—wheeler category, sales grew by 1.94 per cent to 33,788 units from 33,144 units in the same month last year.

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