With excise duties going up, we expected an impact on vehicle dispatches in January 2015. This was reinforced by the fact that December had been an absolute cracker.
THE IMPACT WAS ZERO.
SIAM has released the dispatch data for January 2015 today and we analyse Passenger Vehicle numbers today. Part 2, analysing Commercial vehicles and Two Wheelers numbers would be published tomorrow.
In our Early Sales reckoner, we had noticed Passenger Vehicle dispatches were in the positive territory for most OEMs. Overall, Passenger Vehicle dispatches in January ended the month with a gain of 3.17%. Utility vehicles were the best performing of the sub-segments, with dispatches up by 6.3% over previous year. The continuing success of small SUVs and compact MPVs, along with incremental numbers of the Honda Mobilio resulted in a jump in dispatch numbers.
The Vans segment continues top lag – it was down 6.93% in the month from previous year. The segment is pulled down by the crash in volumes of soft-top Vans even though the Hard-top van segment, dominated by Maruti-Suzuki had impressive dispatch numbers.
MICRO-, MINI- & COMPACT-SEGMENTS
The three biggest segments form the base of the pyramid in the Indian market. Market leader Maruti-Suzuki had a mixed month with dispatches up by only 0.5% over Jan 2014. While the Compact segment gained for the carmaker, it was pulled down by the Mini-segment as the economy at the grass-root level continues to struggle.
Hyundai was the strongest gainer as numbers were pulled up by the new i20 Elite and continued strong demand for the i10 Grand and Xcent small sedan. Overall, HMIL saw a 12.3% uptick in passenger car dispatches in the three segments.
The other major gainer was Tata Motors, gaining mostly because they have been losing volumes for a long time. The company, devoid of any sales drivers for a long time, suddenly finds the Bolt and Zest – two brand-new, potent models – in its showroom. Dispatches were up 54.9%, a good number, some of which would be on account of new inventory creation by dealers for the just launched Bolt. However, at less than 9600 units in January, Tata volumes were still lower than the company’s volumes in any of the prior six years, not counting January 2014.
Most manufacturers in the three segments managed to hold on to their volumes as the impact of increased excise duties was hardly noticeable in the market. Significant gainers were Toyota and Nissan+Datsun, while Volkswagen managed to preserve volumes.
Ford mostly preserved the Figo volumes at just above 2000 units. Last month, reacting to the Figo’s 151 units of dispatches, some media outlets, high on something, had reported a stop in production for the next generation model. That is not correct and the Figo is still fighting, albeit with a bloody nose.
Significant losers included GM India, which lost nearly 24% of its sales volumes. GM’s volumes have now dipped below the 2000 units level, a significant but completely irrelevant happening.
Renault has a faint Pulse, dispatching only 94 units of the hatchback in what may be the last January for the car, unless they do something.
Also facing an uncertain future are Mahindra with their Vibe hatchback. The company dispatched all of 61 units in the month, their worst January ever in the segment.
Honda dispatched an impressive number of Amaze + Brios in the month — nearly 7700 units. However, the volume was still 9% lower than January of last year.
SUPER COMPACT & MID-SIZE SEGMENTS
The Super Compact & Midsize segments spell the start of aspiration in the customer spectrum. The star performer here was Maruti-Suzuki which saw an unprecedented jump in Ciaz dispatches. Maruti’s new Mid-size sedan opens a new market segment for the carmaker and brings in purely incremental volumes. The Ciaz has been around for a few months now and has managed to maintain its dispatch volumes, indicating that MSIL has a winner on their hands.
Honda’s City remains a strong seller despite being in the market for a few quarters. At 7671 units for the City, this was the best January ever for Honda in this segment.
However, apart from the two, most other manufacturers were not able to preserve volumes. Most of them experienced sharp, double-digit dips in January 2015. The declines were led by Hyundai which saw a 57% fall in Verna dispatches, making it the worst January ever for . The arrival of a facelift should put some life in the Verna, which at 1620 units in January 2015 is still doing respectable volumes.
The Nissan Sunny and badge sister Renault Scala have not been doing well for a long time and last month wasn’t different. At 74 units, Scala dispatches were down 51% while at 391 units, the Nissan Sunny saw a mid-boggling fall of 91%.
While Volkswagen has been sustaining and stabilising the Polo quite effectively, the Vento has been slipping. January 2015 dispatches were all of 1015 units, a 21% fall from last year, making it the worst January in last five years for the company.
Skoda also witnessed an almost equivalent decline in Rapid dispatches. At 974 units, dispatches were down 18% from previous year and the worst January ever since the launch of the model.
Finally, Tata dispatched 49 Manzas, a 123% jump over previous year and worrying nonetheless.
Preserving volumes in the Executive segment is becoming difficult as the segment is not experiencing any overall growth. Volumes are now dominated by Toyota, with its Corolla, even as Volkswagen, Skoda and everyone else is relegated to the sidelines. Last month, the Corolla accounted for 954 units in dispatches. The new generation model has started strong and the dispatch volume was 744% up from previous year. It’s a futile comparison as this time last year the previous generation Corolla was adorning the showrooms.
Skoda dispatched 170 Octavias, nearly the same as last year, and the year before that. The difference is that this time last year, the previous generation Laura was in the showrooms. SO for a new model to sell as much as an end of lifecycle model is worrying for the brand’s future. It’s almost like the Octavia has been born old.
Sister brand Volkswagen dispatched only three Jettas. Nuff said!
Hyundai dispatched 244 Elantras, 31% drop from previous year. A facelift is badly needed to bring back momentum even though the Elantra looks quite attractive.
Fiat dispatched 240 Lineas, an improvement from January 2014 dispatched of 178 units. GM managed 125 units of the Cruze in the month, a heart 25% jump from previous year.
The Utility Vehicles segment was the fastest growing segment in January 2015. Dispatch volume was driven by Maruti-Suzuki which saw a 35% spurt in Ertiga dispatch volumes of 6432 units. This was the best January ever for MSIL in this segment.
In comparison Honda dispatched 3000 Mobilio. The Mobilio is still in the Data Honeymoon period and all volume was incremental for the company and segment.
Both the Renault Duster and Ford EcoSport also registered a stable growth in dispatches in the month. It was the best January ever for Ford in the segment.
However, Nissan witnessed a 33% decline in dispatches.
Healthy growth was also seen in Toyota dispatches of the Innova + Fortuner. At 6850 units, dispatches were nearly 7% up from January 2014.
The Vans segment is further split into two sub-segments – Hard-top Vans and Soft-top Vans. Both have been displaying contrasting trends as far as dispatch volumes are concerned. While Hard-Top vans are going steady, Soft-top vans have seen a major collapse in dispatch volumes.
Most soft-top vans are used in rural and semi-urban areas as shared taxis operated by small entrepreneurs. A decline in sales is an indicator that the rural economy is in turmoil and recovery is far.
Hard-top vans are used as commercial or private vehicles in urban areas. Some of them are also used as shared taxis. Dispatches have been steady, lead by market leader Maruti-Suzuki with the Omni & Eeco vans. In January 2015, the company dispatched more than 10000 vans, a growth of 8.2% over previous year. However, volumes were still significantly low as compared to Jan 2011 and Jan 2012 volumes.
The other players – Mahindra and Tata – have much smaller volumes and both registered declines in dispatches.
The Soft-top Vans segment continued to struggle with market leader Tata Motors registering a 40% decline in dispatches at 1700 units. Similarly, Mahindra’s dispatches of the Gio van were down 50%.