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July car sales at record high

New Delhi, Aug. 9: Car sales rose 38 per cent in July from a year ago, driven by easy access to low-cost loans, rising income and new models.

The sales in July at 1,58,764 units were the highest for a month, surpassing the previous high of 1,55,600 units in March, according to data by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam). In July last year, the industry sold 1,15,084 cars.

Siam has forecast car sales to grow at 12-13 per cent for the year ending March 2011, which analysts say is a conservative estimate.

The robust sales is in the backdrop of the economy rebounding from the global financial crisis. Overall automobile sales grew 31.50 per cent to 12,37,461 units in July compared with 9,41,070 units in the same month last year.

“The growth in the auto industry in July was because of good growth in passenger cars, scooters and mopeds as launches, greater reach in rural markets and availability of finances continue to boost sales,” Vishnu Mathur, director of Siam, said.

The auto sector grew 35 per cent on an average in the first four months of the current fiscal year. Interest rates have been stable so far. There are concerns that the lending rates may inch up following the RBI’s monetary measures to curb inflation.

“Main challenges (for auto sector growth) will be availability of finance and interest rates,” said Mathur.

“We have not yet seen a major impact on lending rates but banks are cautioning us that it (rise) may happen.”

Commodity prices also needs to be watched, Mathur added.

Sales of trucks and buses — an indicator of economic activity — rose 37 per cent to 51,481 units in July.

Sales of Maruti Suzuki rose 29 per cent in July, while Tata Motors and Hyundai reported gains of 41 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively

Two-wheeler sales in July rose 30.41 per cent to an all-time high of 9,38,514 units, surpassing the previous record of 9,36,555 in May.

Motorcycle sales also went up 30.09 per cent to 7,10,621 units in July compared with 5,46,233 units in the year-ago period.

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