The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Commercial vehicles in top gear

New Delhi, Aug. 23 (PTI): Rise in truck sales of Tata Engineering, Ashok Leyland, Mahindra and Mahindra and Swaraj Mazda, drove domestic commercial vehicle sales up by 36 per cent during the first five months of this fiscal.

Total sales rose to 52,339 vehicles during April-July 2002-03, from 38,386 units a year ago, which auto analysts attributed to cyclical fleet replacement by truck owners and growth in steel, cement, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

Medium and heavy (M&H) vehicle sales went up by 29.2 per cent to 30,525 units while light commercial vehicles (LCVs) surged 47.6 per cent to 21,814 units, according to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

Of this, sale of M&H trucks increased by 29.2 per cent at 30,525 units with the two biggest companies— Tata Engineering and Ashok Leyland—posting a 52.1 per cent and 19.4 per cent rise at 16,325 and 6,079 units respectively. Eicher Motors and Swaraj Mazda’s sales were also higher by 34.2 per cent and 32.7 per cent at 1,482 and 446 units respectively.

Light truck sales jumped 45 per cent to 15,577 units as Tata Engineering and M&M posted a 41.4 per cent and 69.8 per cent rise to 6,950 and 5,617 vehicles respectively.

Swaraj Mazda and Eicher too recorded increase of 62.1 per cent and 20.4 per cent to 1,414 and 1,061 units respectively.

But Bajaj Tempo, Hindustan Motors and Ashok Leyland suffered a 38.8 per cent, 3.0 per cent and 23.4 per cent decline at 338, 161 and 36 vehicles respectively.

Principal at Boston Consulting Group Arindam Bhattacharya said the current growth in truck sales was primarily on account of building up of capacities by operators. “Industry drivers like steel, cement and agriculture have also showed an upward trend. The manufacturing industry is up,” Bhattacharya said adding inefficiency of railways in goods movement was also fuelling truck sales.

Besides, the ongoing golden quadrilateral highway programme and other road building projects were providing a boost to truck sales in the country, he said. Bhattacharya, however, said it was too early to comment on the effects of this year’s drought on truck sales.

Another analyst said the erratic behaviour of the monsoon was not likely to have any major impact on truck sales and pegged the growth in the commercial vehicle sector at about 15 per cent for this fiscal.

The growth in sale of LCV trucks was a result of strong intra-state movement of goods which, the analyst, said was less sensitive to GDP growth and other factors than HCVs.

Contrary to the growth in truck sales, sale of M&H buses fell by 2.5 per cent at 6,193 vehicles as Tata Engineering suffered a 8.7 per cent dip at 3,060 units during April-July 2002-03.

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