New Delhi: Domestic passenger vehicle sales halved in March compared to the same period of last year due to the coronavirus crisis and the ensuing nationwide lockdown. Also Read - Marginal Rise in Domestic Passenger Vehicle Sales in October as Auto Sector Woes Continue: SIAM Report

A total of 1,43,014 passenger vehicles were sold in March 2020 in India, 51 per cent lower than the 2,91,861 units sold in March 2019, according to the data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). Also Read - Amid Economic Slowdown, Passenger Vehicle Sales Drops 23.7% in September, 11th Month of Decline

Commercial vehicle sales plunged 88 per cent to 13,027 units last month, compared to 1,09,022 units during the year ago period. Also Read - Passenger Vehicle Sales Fall For Nine Consecutive Months, Drop 31 Per Cent in July

Three-wheeler sales stood at 27,608 units, 58.34 per cent lower on a year-on-year basis. Similarly, two-wheeler sales were recorded at 8,66,849 units in March 2020, compared to 1,440,593 units in March 2019, a decline of 39.83 per cent.

Commenting on the March data, Rajesh Menon, Director General, SIAM, said: “Automobile industry witnessed one of its sharpest declines in domestic sales in March 2020 due to subdued demand and consumer sentiments which was further aggravated by the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.”

SIAM President Rajan Wadhera said that March 2020 was one of the most challenging months for the auto sector as the 21-day lockdown resulted in bringing production and sales of vehicles to a standstill in the last week.

As the revenues took severe hit, the original equipment manufacturers struggled on meeting fixed cost and working capital requirements, he said.

“The industry was already reeling under severe degrowth and the pressure of disrupted supply chain, which were followed by a majority of the auto companies announcing a shutdown of their manufacturing units in the last week of March due to concerns over ensuring workplace safety and health of their employees,” Wadhera said.

He said that as per SIAM’s estimate, the Indian auto industry is losing Rs 2,300 crore in production turnover for every day of closure.

The auto industry is engaged in a dialogue with the Government of India on policy measures which could minimise the impact of Covid-19 on the Indian economy, especially the automobile industry.

There would be challenges on the supply side and demand side and also on the issue of availability of finance, which would all need to be addressed to bring back growth in the sector, Wadhera added.

Production of vehicles last month declined by 33.61 per cent to 1,447,345 units, including passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, three wheelers, two wheelers and quadricycle, as against 2,180,203 units in March 2019, the data showed.