New Delhi: In the wake of the ‘contraction in the commercial vehicle market’, Chennai-headquartered automaker Ashok Leyland has announced a five-day shutdown come Friday.

On Thursday, Leyland said in a statement, “As already informed, due to continuing sluggishness and contraction in the commercial vehicle market, the need has arisen to continue the corrective actions to safeguard the interest of the company. Hence, it has been decided to declare 06.09.2019, 07.09.2019, 10.09.2019 and 11.09.2019 as non-working days and 09.09.2019 as a 6th-day non-working day.”

Commercial vehicles major Ashok Leyland Ltd closed last month with a 47 per cent drop in sales, the company said on Tuesday. In a statement, the company said that it sold a total of 9,231 units in August, down from 17,386 units sold during the corresponding month in 2018.

The ongoing economic crisis in the country has impacted the automobile sector severely, with the industry recording the worst sales slowdowns.

On September 4, Maruti Suzuki India Limited decided to shut down the passenger vehicle manufacturing operations of Gurugram and Manesar Plant in Haryana for two days.

It had decided to shut the production for two days on September 7 and 9, and both days will be observed as no production days.

Last month, Maruti Suzuki India had shed over 1,000 temporary employees and were looking to freeze hiring and at other cost-cutting measures to tide over the current deceleration. “Temporary employees are the first to get impacted and the same has happened in this case too,” a source told to IANS.

Meanwhile, on September 5, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari acknowledged the massive slowdown in India’s auto industry and announced that the government had no intention of banning petrol or diesel vehicles in the country.

“The auto sector is not solely responsible for pollution in Delhi,” he said, however, maintaining that he will take up the SIAM’s recommendation of reducing GST on petrol and diesel vehicles with the Finance Minister.

The auto industry on Thursday sought urgent stimulus from the government in the form of GST reduction, cautioning that if the current slowdown in the sector continues, there would be further job losses that could have societal and social consequences.

Moreover, the auto industry, through the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), has been asking the government to reduce GST on automobiles to 18 per cent from 28 per cent.