India: New car sales up 7.2% in January image

New car sales in India gained for the third consecutive month in January, giving a promising potential in the automobile market for 2012.

According to the figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers on Wednesday, domestic passenger car sales grew by 7.20 per cent to 1.96,013 vehicles in January against 1.82,852 vehicles in the same month last year.

In addition, sales of trucks and buses, a key indicator of economic activity, rose 13.5 per cent in January from a year previous to 69,859 vehicles, SIAM said.

The January performance follows an 8.5% increase in December and a 7.5% rise in November–which was the first growth in car sales in five months.

Analysts believe car sales will keep improving in the coming months with India’s central bank expected to start lowering interest rates as inflation shows signs of moderating.

SIAM expects vehicle sales to increase by 11 to 13 percent in the fiscal year starting on April 1 if the Reserve Bank of India begins to ease interest rates soon. The central bank has raised interest rates 13 times since March 2010 in its battle against stubborn inflation.

Sales of market leader Maruti, the local unit of Suzuki Motor Corp., increased 2.4 percent to 88,377 cars, while those of second-ranked Hyundai climbed 11 percent to 33,756 cars.
Tata Motors’ sales increased 10.79 per cent to 28,529 units.