August 2014 was truly an August month as everything came together for the automotive industry. Passenger Vehicle sales were up; Heavy Commercial Vehicle (HCV) sales were up, and two-wheelers hitched a ride on a rocket.
Even Mopeds and Three-wheelers were busy celebrating an early Diwali.
August is a funny time of the year. It is not as slow as the summer months even though heavy rains do tend to shave off a few working days from dealers. At the same time, the festival season is still a bit far away even though some dealers do tend to start building up the inventory.
However, August 2014 was different. If June 2014 and July 2014 saw passenger vehicle sales improving, albeit still on a shaky ground, August 2014 strongly iterated that good times are back. Most vehicle segments recorded sales growth quite convincingly.
Passenger Vehicle Sales – Vans Still Play Spoilsport
It was the story of June & July all over again being repeated n August. While Passenger Car dispatches were up with Utility Vehicles following suit, Vans still recorded losses, lead by the Soft-Top Van segment.
Passenger Cars dispatches in August 2014 numbered 153758 units, a 15.16% growth from August 2013’s relatively low base of 133513 units. Despite the strong growth, August 2014 dispatches were not the best ever for any August – dispatches in August 2010 had been more than 160000 units.
In the Utility Vehicles segment, manufacturers dispatched a total of 46501 units, an 18.1% jump over August 2013 dispatch numbers.
Similar to July, the Small SUV (UV1) segment has been driving growth in the Utility Vehicles segment. August was helped by Honda’s dispatches of the Mobilio as the small MPV has received a good response in the market.
Apart from the Mobilio, the Ford EcoSport, Renault Duster, Nissan Terrano and Maruti-Suzuki Ertiga kept on their strong run. Overall, August 2014 was the best August ever for the Indian Utility Vehicles segment.
However, Vans are still sweating. Dispatches were down 20.6% from August 2013 and last month was the worst August in the last five years for the Vans segment.
A detailed analysis of the Vans segment reveals that while Hard-top Van dispatches were up 12.8% year-on-year, Soft-tops collapsed completely, down 63% year-on-year. Soft-top Van dispatches fell below the 3000 units mark while they were above 7500 units in August 2013.
Overall, the Passenger Vehicles segment recorded a 12.5% improvement in dispatches in August 2014, making this the best August ever for the segment. It is worth noting that August 2013 was not really a low base month as sales in 2013 were up 4.5% over August 2012. However, August 2012 and August 2011 were both down over their preceding years.
How do the OEMs stack up?
Like always, numbers were helped by stellar performances from Maruti-Suzuki, Hyundai and Honda. Maruti benefitted from the Celerio’s strong show, with Swift and DZire holding ground. MSIL is also doing a good job of holding on to the Mini segment (Alto800, Wagon R) numbers.
Hyundai has the freshest portfolio in the market, apart from Honda, and the Korean manufacturer is making good use of it. The i20 Elite, Grand i10 and Xcent helped Hyundai post strong numbers.
Meanwhile, the Amaze continues to roll the dough for Honda even though City dispatches were disrupted. Production of Honda’s Mid-Size sedan has now been moved to the Tapukara plant to accommodate the Mobilio at the Greater Noida plant, even though Honda lost more than a month of manufacturing on account of the planning mess.
However, past the three market cheerleaders, everyone else seems to be still hibernating. GM India and Tata Motors were both down yet again.
GM India had one of the worst months ever with dispatches falling to a little above 4000 units, a 36.6% fall from last year. Nothing seems to be working for the carmaker as dispatches for every product, barring the Enjoy MPV, have crashed.
Ford too had a surprisingly terrible month with dispatches declining 15% over previous year. While The EcoSport improved, the Figo dispatches slipped further as the compact car struggles to hold its own in the face of multiple new products in the market.
Mahindra too witnessed a strong decline in dispatches. The company’s dispatches were down nearly 11% over August 2013 as customers are reluctant to return to boxy UVs when they have the Mobilio, EcoSport, Duster and Ertiga to choose from.
Volkswagen, which steadfastly guards its dispatch-numbers from the media every month, finally revealed that dispatches had slipped a further 16.6% in August 2014, over previous year.
Also down in dispatches was Toyota, which saw its volumes shrinking 6.6% over previous year.
Tata’s dispatch volumes were down 5.1% over previous year. The company bears the maximum brunt of the slowdown in Soft-top Van sales. Next month’s numbers should be interesting for Tata Motors as the Zest is expected to make an impact.
Micro-, Mini- & Compact Segment
In the biggest segments, Maruti-Suzuki and Hyundai were the biggest gainers. Both had the best August ever in their history. While MSIL dispatches were up 30% over previous year, Hyundai improved its dispatches by 27.6% over August 2013.
However, MSIL data is a bit skewed. From this month, MSIL has started including the DZIre dispatch numbers in the Compact segment, moving it from the Super Compact segment. This makes MSIL’s data reporting similar to Hyundai and Honda’s.
Meanwhile, Honda had a warm August 2014 with dispatches going up by 34% over previous year. The Amaze is the key volume driver, as demand for the model stays hot.
Volkswagen managed to put up a decent show in these segments as Polo dispatches fell by only 1.9%.
Another statistical winner was Nissan-Datsun, which recorded a 21% jump in dispatches. However, at 1891 units between the Micra and the Go, Nissan-Datsun has little to cheer about. The Go’s performance in the first six months is worrying enough to drive a few resignations at Nissan. If not corrected anytime soon, this has the potential to jeopardize the future of the Datsun brand in India.
Sister-brand Renault is also facing major problems as the Pulse fails to move its ass. At all of 78 units dispatched in August 2014, down 81%, the Pulse is a colossal failure. Actually, apart from the Duster, nothing with the lozenge logo is selling.
Also fizzled out spectacularly is the Mahindra Vibe, the Logan based hatchback. A spacious and capable car, the Vibe has lost all traction recently. Dispatches were down 78% to 106 units.
Super Compact & Midsize segments
Thanks to MSIL shifting the DZire to the compact segment, volumes under consideration have fallen significantly in the Super Compact and Midsize segments. MSIL only reported the DZire Tour (previous generation DZire being offered to the taxi segment) and the outgoing SX4 sedan in the segment. Dispatches more than doubled to 1328 units, driven by the DZire Tour.
Hyundai’s Verna is approaching its midlife and dispatches were down 30% over August 2013.
Honda City continues to sell well in the mid-size segment. However, the company was busy moving production from the Greater Noida plant to the Tapukara plant in August and production of the City was limited, affecting its dispatches. The City has made way for the Mobilio at the Greater Noida plant.
Renault saw another spectacular collapse in the Scala dispatches. The company shipped all of 38 cars to its dealers, a 89% decline in dispatches.
Also declining strongly was Volkswagen, which saw Vento dispatch numbers being halved to 920 units.
Also halved were GM India’s dispatches of the Sail sedan. At 432 units, even the taxi guys are reluctant in buying the Sail.
In fact, the overall Super Compact + Midsize segments seems to be an orgy of bloodshed in August 2014. Tata dispatched 79 units of the Manza, a 67% decline from August 2013. Nissan dispatched all of 506 units of the Sunny, a 45% decline from previous year.
The surprising winners in the segment were Ford and Skoda. Ford did well with Classic sales in August 2014, shifting 593 units to showrooms, a near 70% year-on-year improvement.
Skoda moved 1027 units of the Rapid, a 27% improvement over previous year.
HCVs rule as MCVs and Buses Bleed
HCVs had started recovering in June and the trend has started to get stronger with every month. August 2014 was good for the segment with volumes improving 37.7% over previous year.
Recovery was led by HCVs in the Tractor-Trailer format where dispatches to dealers more than doubled to 1824 units, from 905 units in August 2013.
Saying that, HCVs with Rigid rear axles did not do too shabby either. Dispatches of 7223 units were 27.5% higher than previous year.
At the PEM level, Tata and Ashok Leyland led the recovery while VECV grew at a significantly slower pace.
The recovery in HCV segment is both an indicator of the recovery in the economy as well as the changing face of the M&HCV market where operators are switching to larger tonnage trucks.
In contrast to HCVs, the MCV segment is still making a recovery. Dispatches were down 1.1%. However, at the OEM level, the story was quite different. While Ashok Leyland’s MCV dispatches were up 22%, Tata MCV sales were down 27%.
Light Commercial Vehicles – Late to Fall; Late to Rise
The LCV segment is also making a slow recovery – dispatches of LCVs (not counting Small Commercial Vehicles like the Tata Ace) were 5627 units, a decline of 4.32% over previous year.
Again, Tata and VECV are leading the decline while Ashok Leyland has made a smart recovery.
Small Commercial Vehicles – Mahindra beats Tata yet again
The SCV segment (GVW 0-3.5T) has declined in the last three quarters and dispatches in August 2014 continued the decline. Overall segment volumes were down 13.7% at 25891 units, the worst since August 2011.
At the OEM level, Tata’s dispatches in the segment were 11215 units, a drop of 28% from previous year. In contrast, Mahindra dispatched 11794 units, a 3.4% increase from August 2013.
Two Wheelers – Scooters continue their roll
Hero has a problem in scooters – in a category growing 37% overall last month, Hero stands out with a near 15% decline in dispatches.
Meanwhile, segment leader Honda sold 217751 scooters, a 47% jump from previous year. However, the surprise of the segment was TVS, which nearly doubled its dispatches in August 2014.
In the commuter motorcycle (75cc – 125cc) segment, segment leader Hero Motocorp managed to outgrow challenger Honda’s growth rate. Hero dispatches were more than 477,000 units, a near 25% growth. HMSI shifted more than135000 units, a growth of 12.7%. The fastest growing
Honda managed to pip Hero again on the growth rate front even though Hero has a huge volume advantage. At 446567 units, Hero dispatches were up 9.17% year-on-year.
Bajaj Auto has been faring badly in the commuter segment and the misery continued in August 2014 as dispatches were down 27.8% over previous year. At 64745 units, dispatches were less than half of that in August 2012 and August 2011.
In the 125cc-250cc motorcycle segments, TVS, Bajaj and Yamaha improved their numbers while HMSI numbers declined. While Bajaj sales were up 18.7%, TVS surprised with a strong growth of 33.7% over previous year. Yamaha too improved its sales by 20.3% over previous year.
HMSI witnessed a 26% decline in sales numbers in August 2014 as sales of Honda’s premium commuter bikes too a hit.
As a whole, the segments improved numbers by 10.3% over August 2013.
Big Bikes – Big Boost
Big Bikes continue their Big growth story in August. Royal Enfield led the pack with a 66% jump in sales. The company sold 26121 units overall, including 31 units of the Continental GT.
Harley-Davidson managed to dispatch 268 units of the Street 750 in August. The company’s overall sales were up 171% over previous August, propelled by the Street.
Rival Triumph sold 119 units in the month.