The Automotive Industry is one of the major drivers of India’s growth. Currently, it is the 4th largest market in the world. Having a valuation of $93 Billion, it contributes around 7.5% of the GDP and nearly half of the manufacturing GDP. Many known international automotive companies have setup their manufacturing units in India and some of them export also. There are currently 21 international and 18 Indian automotive companies.
Being a driver of India’s Economic growth, it has the world’s largest two-wheeler and 4th largest four-wheeler market. Moreover, India also exports $14.5 Billion worth of automobiles, comprising 2.2% of total exports and growing fast. It is also one of the largest employers where 37 Million people are employed directly and indirectly. With the recent growth in the middle-income households, the auto sales have crossed 26 million in 2018, surpassing Germany. It is also a major supporter of labour-intensive domestically ancillary units which is dominated by small and medium scale enterprises.
This year i.e., 2019 has witnessed the worst slowdown of automobile sales after December 2000. The sales have been decreasing for the last 10 months. In July, due to a decrease in sales, around 2.3 lakh jobs have been lost in this sector and 300 dealerships have been closed. Auto sales in August have decreased by 23.5% compared to the previous year. Talking about the segments, the commercial vehicle is worst affected by the decrease in sales by 38.71%, followed by 31.57% in commercial vehicles and 22.24% in two-wheelers. But, the exports in this year has increased marginally by 2.3%.
The first slowdown which was recorded after SIAM (Society for Indian Automobile Association) was formed was in the year of 2000 where the auto sales had reduced by 35%, where passenger car was worst sufferers suffering reduction by 23.1%.
The recent slowdown is going on since November 2018 and no hope for revival is seen. The trigger was started with the IL&FS crisis, where not only them but also other NBFCs were taken with it to the trouble. This led to a shortage of funding and their loan disbursement were decreased by 30% in the first quarter of this financial year. Similarly, NPAs in banks were multiplied by 4-times in 4 years which discouraged bank to sanction more loans.
Second reason is the new ruling by the supreme court on pollution control. Supreme court has given the deadline of 1 April 2020 to all automobile companies to comply with BS-VI norms. Maruti-Suzuki has decided to stop its diesel model production due to high-cost and lack of expertise on adaptation of BS-VI norms. Also, the potential buyers have held its decision due to the low resale value of BS-IV models in future.
Third reason is the announcement of electric cars and emphasising on it has confused consumers on whether to buy internal combustion cars or electric cars. Government is lacking its vision on the policy of electric cars.
Fourth reason is an increase in third-party insurance. This has increased the cost of auto maintenance which has backed off consumers from purchasing automobiles.
Maruti-Suzuki, the largest automobile company in India has seen a decrease in the production by one third and they had to shut down the production for 2 days. Till now, ₹80,000 crores have been invested by auto companies behind BS-VI norms and it is uncertain that if the sales would pick up.
A report by Reserve Bank of India in May has rejected the reason for credit shortage on slow auto sales. Instead, RBI says that increase in fuel prices and exogenous policy changes has reduced auto sales. The increase in third-party insurance premium, registration fees (which has taken back) has discouraged buyers to purchase cars.
If we see the decline of auto sales by category, two-wheeler and commercial vehicles, especially tractors have declined which indicates that there is a decrease in the spending of consumers especially in rural areas where these vehicles are popular. This may indicate that the slowdown of the economy which is currently going on.
To tackle the slowdown, there is demand for GST cut rates and availability of easier credit for automotive vehicles. Most of the auto companies are demanding a GST rate to cut down from 28% to 18%. On the other side, some companies are introducing new schemes to make their way from slowdown. One such company, Mahindra has introduced subscription service for some of its models where the subscriber has to pay a subscription fee and deposit in advance which includes insurance premium and maintenance charges. The subscriber after registration has to take a plan ranging from one to four years and have to pay monthly fees accordingly. After the plan expires, the subscriber can either return the car to the company, purchase the same car at a discounted price or take a new plan for a different model.
Government on the rescue
Recently, finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman has announced capital infusion of ₹70,000 crore in the PSU banks to increase the liquidity in the economy. She also has lifted the ban on purchasing new vehicles for government administration which will provide a short-term demand. Moreover, the validity of BS-IV will be valid for the entire period of registration done today even after April 2020. An additional depreciation of 15% is allowed, taking it to 30% on vehicles purchased today till April 2020. The Government is also planning with a temporary reduction in GST rates to reduce the prices and fully implemented scrapping policy.
The silver lining
Despite the slowdown in the auto sales going on for the last ten months, the sales of the new models launched in this year is cruising through its sales and the demand is more than expected. The new players in the Indian auto market, MG motors and KIA motors have recently launched their first models, Hector and Seltos respectively. Hector has got so many bookings that MG motors have to close its bookings and the waiting time is a minimum of 6 months. Seltos, complied with BS-VI since its introduction is still not have delivered its model but they have received bookings up to 32000 in august with the waiting time of 4 months. Jeep’s compass has the waiting time for 45 days. Tata motors, facing slowdown has its saviour, Harrier which still has waiting time for 6 weeks. This shows that the new models with the latest features are favourite among young consumers and old players now have to innovate their automobiles and give that features that fulfil the value of which the consumers are paying.