NEW DELHI, India - Spurred by rising incomes and consumer expectations, sales of new cars and sport-utilities in India registered double-digit gains in the fiscal year ended March 31.
According to the Association of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, new-car sales rose 19 percent from a year earlier to a record 411,305 units, the first time in the country's history that volume has surpassed 400,000 units. Sport-utility sales rose 18 percent, to 77,770 units.
Once again, the lion's share of the increase in the car segment was taken by a single company. Maruti-Udyog Ltd., the 50-50 joint venture between the Indian government and Suzuki Motor Corp. that is the country's dominant carmaker, accounted for 95 percent of the market's overall gain.
Maruti's sales rose 24 percent over the previous year to 330,414 units, increasing its share to 80.3 percent from 77.3 percent.
Among the other makers here:
Hindustan Motors sales were flat at 25,828 units.
DCM Daewoo Motors Ltd., the first new joint-venture carmaker to come to market, sold 16,866 Cielos, far below its lowered target of 25,000 a year.
Sales of Premier Automobile Ltd., which produces two Fiat-based vehicles, tumbled 49 percent to 10,210, reflecting the impact of a bitter strike and lockout in the third quarter.
PAL-Peugeot, Premier's joint venture with Peugeot SA that assembles the French carmaker's 309 model, fell 25 percent to 10,301.
TELCO said sales of its two car models fell 30 percent to 7,315.
General Motors India Ltd., marking its first full fiscal year of operations, sold 7,482 Opel Astras vs. a production capacity of 25,000 units.
Mahindra Ford India Ltd., which began production of the European Escort last June, sold 3,606 units vs. capacity of about 25,000.
Mercedes Benz India Ltd., the only player in India's so-called super-luxury segment, registered a 390 percent increase in sales to 1,885 units. The company sells the previous-generation E220 and E250 diesel here.
In the sport-utility segment, market leader Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd. widened its market share to 89.3 percent from 87 percent a year earlier on sales of 69,438 units.
Sales of the only other player, Maruti, remained essentially unchanged at 8,332 units.