India auto, components sector faces soft retail sales, as competition from new SUVs, two-wheelers intensifies

In June 2023, India’s automobile sector experienced a mixed performance, with certain segments exceeding expectations while others falling short. According to a research report by Kotak Institutional Equities, the tractor segment is estimated to have recorded a low single-digit increase in volumes on a year-on-year (yoy) basis, supported by higher sowing acreage and increased Minimum Support Prices (MSPs). However, the two-wheeler (2W) and commercial vehicle (CV) segments faced challenges, with domestic PV retail volumes also showing a muted growth of just 3% on a yoy basis in the first quarter of FY24.

The domestic PV industry reported a modest 2% increase in both wholesale and retail volumes in June 2023, compared to the previous year. Maruti Suzuki, a leading player in the segment, witnessed a 2% yoy increase in total volumes, driven by a 6% yoy rise in domestic segment volumes, although offset by a substantial 17% yoy decline in exports. The SUV volumes declined by 6% on a month-on-month basis, partly attributed to semiconductor chip shortages. Maruti Suzuki’s market share stood at approximately 41% in June 2023, indicating a significant increase of 250 basis points compared to the previous year.

Hyundai Motors saw a 2% yoy increase in domestic volumes, while Kia Motors experienced a concerning 19% decline in the same period. Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) reported yoy volume increases ranging from 5% to 21% in June 2023.

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The domestic 2W retail volumes demonstrated a 3% yoy improvement in the first quarter of FY24. However, on a month-on-month basis, the segment faced a sharp decline of around 29%. This was primarily attributed to a 57% drop in electric vehicle (EV) sales due to reduced FAME-II subsidy and seasonality impact with the onset of monsoon. HMCL, one of the leading 2W manufacturers, witnessed a 10% yoy decline in volumes in June 2023.

On the other hand, TVS Motor reported a 3% yoy increase in volumes, driven by a robust 11% yoy growth in scooters and a steady 2% yoy growth in the motorcycle segment. Royal Enfield showed impressive performance, with volumes soaring by 26% yoy, primarily fueled by a substantial 34% yoy increase in domestic volumes. Bajaj Auto, however, experienced a 2% yoy decline in overall volumes in June 2023.

The CV segment continued to face muted demand on a yoy basis, with volumes declining by a low single-digit percentage. Tata Motors’ CV volumes declined by 8% yoy, particularly impacted by significant declines in the I&LCV and SCV cargo & pickup segments. Ashok Leyland showed a more positive outlook, reporting a 5% yoy volume improvement driven by a 7% yoy increase in MHCV volumes and a 2% yoy improvement in LCV segment volumes in June 2023.

Indian auto companies staring at intense competition as new launches loom

Looking ahead, the Indian automobile and component sector is expected to face intensified competition as several new SUV/MUV launches are scheduled for July 2023. These launches, including the Honda Elevate, Kia Seltos facelift, Maruti Suzuki Invicto, and Hyundai Exter, are targeted at the SUV/MUV segment, which has been witnessing increased consumer preference. Additionally, the two-wheeler segment will witness new launches like the Hero-Harley Davidson X440 and Bajaj Auto-Triumph Speed 400 & Scrambler 400 X, primarily focusing on the >250 cc segment, where Royal Enfield currently holds over 90% of the market share.

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