New Delhi: Maruti Suzuki, the country’s biggest carmaker, has said that India could record its highest-ever passenger vehicle sales at over 35 lakh units in 2022-23 as demand for personal mobility comes back strongly and shortages around component supplies, especially semiconductors, ease.
Shashank Srivastava, who heads sales and marketing at Maruti, told TOI that consumer interest remains robust in new purchases, and added that a large push to demand is coming from rural markets, where buying has been brisk.
The highest car sales ever recorded in a single year in India was in 2018-19, when industry volume was at 33.8 lakh units. After that, sales of passenger vehicles – including small cars, sedans, SUVs and MPVs – slipped to 27.7 lakh units in 2019-20 due to economic challenges and slowdown in metros.
Sales in 2020-21 were impacted by corona lockdowns and restrictions, and the industry finished the year at 27.1 lakh units, before witnessing a rebound in 2021-22 – largely led by pent-up demand – where numbers are expected at 30.2 lakh units. The only deterrent to a bigger turnaround has been shortage of semiconductors, Srivastava said.
“Demand has been strong throughout, and except for supply issues on semiconductors, there have been no major hiccups. Even the chip shortage issue has been getting better over the past few months. We expect sales numbers in 2022-23 would be strong and be anywhere between 33.6 lakh and 35.2 lakh,” Srivastava said.
The positive optimism comes even as petrol and diesel prices have generally been high, and prices of vehicles have gone up over the past year due to commodities getting dearer.
Srivastava said sales of personal cars gained as people shifted from shared mobility (such as Ola and Uber) and public transport to self-owned cars to avoid public spaces due to social distancing norms.
Srivastava said rural segment will play a key role in fuelling the industry numbers. “Even for Maruti, the share of rural to total sales is now at 43%. Rural incomes have not been impacted as much when compared to urban. Rural has seen higher investments from the government, MSP prices and water reservoirs are better, and sowing has been higher than last year.”
On Maruti, he said the company is looking to perk up market share by beefing up SUV portfolio. “SUVs are in demand, and the consumer is aspirational.”