The struggling Automobile sector

Engineering Post Report

Automobile sector in the country has remained  in distress for the second consecutive  year with a massive fall during first three quarters of last financial year i.e. July 2019-March 2020.

The last year 2018-19 began  with imposition of ban on non-filers of income tax returns accompanied  with escalating  exchange rate which kept the industry in turmoil to say the least. Resultantly the year had ended  with massive fall in production and the sales.

Financial year 2019-20 also witnessed new taxes  like Federal Excise Duty (FED), Additional Customs Duty  (ACD) and minimum value addition  tax, while the exchange rate  was also kept  escalating. Besides, industrial  fall also continued  to grip the automobile sector with uncertainty and the sector was almost reduced to half during the period under report.

There has been fall all over the local auto industry during the last financial year particularly in March 2020. The fall was even in  case of two/three wheelers  where typically sustainable demand  always exists for being low cost products and most preferable mode of transport for the masses in general. Even the introduction of  two new variants  during last fiscal i.e. Suzuki Alto and Toyota Yaris by the passenger car sector  could not sustain  the demand  in passenger  car sector.

In case of passenger cars,  the sales plunged  most, by as much as 70.8 per cent in the month of March 2020 to 5796 units  compared to 19897 units in March FY 2019. This was perhaps  due to  general lock down due to pandemic of Corona Virus. The lockdown  situation  has continued  for some months towards end of financial year 2019-20 and start of fiscal year 2020-21 and has considerably been eased in July 2020 making the woes of the automobile sector worse considerably during the foregoing months. The industry will quite obviously take sometime to recover as the COVID-19 is being checked and brought under control to a great extent. During July-March  FY 2020 production and sales of passenger cars had dropped by 47.9 per cent and 46.8 per cent respectively.  

There was also fall in heavy  commercial vehicle sector too. In case of trucksand buses, the production during first three quarters of last financial year July 2019-March 2020 had dropped by  45.7 per cent  and 28.8 per cent respectively. The non-filers of income tax returns  may not have impacted here; but the work at certain level government had halted, so were te supplies  of trucks and  the respective payments, resulting  in disruption of the chain of events at the trucking industry.

According to available figures, during July-March FY 2020, the farm tractor sector  also continued to decline with production and the sales plunging down by 37.9 per cent and 37.7 per cent respectively. During the period under report, the sales were only 23506 units against 37742 units  sold  during the corresponding period of the last year. This decline was attributed  to increase in the prices  of agricultural inputs, absence of support subsidies and halting of  government tractor schemes for the farmers  , which quite obviously added to their woes thus badly impacting  the booking of farm tractors.

The two/three wheelers  sector also failed to show any growth;  it rather dropped off production and the  sales by 12.3 per cent during July-March FY 2020. Still this sector most preferred  and economic means  of transport and best alterative  in the absence of public transport  in the cities and thus holds a dependable and continued  potential growth in the coming years.