For deliverance from the two-wheeler sales woes of India’s auto sector, industry czars will be looking up at the skies-- literally and figuratively speaking.
As the national auto sales figures for June trickled in, the ‘positive-yet-negative’ trend seen in the past several months continued showing its true colours. Auto sales in most categories have recovered substantially from the Covid lows — with total sales of 18.63 lakh last month compared to just 17 lakh in June last year.
Except for two-wheelers, that is.
Despite a minor increase compared to last year, two-wheeler automobile sales continued to suffer since the pandemic where most other categories registered scintillating performance that promises a crossing of all-time highs. For three-wheelers, passenger cars and tractors showed maximum strength, when compared to June in 2019 (pre-Covid).
Overall domestic sales figures are now at just 3 percentage points less than pre-Covid levels, with overall trends improving except in the case of bikes and scooters.
Therein lies a tale. For two-wheeler sales are not just an indicator of industry health or just people buying more or less of two-wheelers. Two-wheeler sales in India are a barometer for the health of the nation’s villages, how the agrarian rural economy is faring, and whether rural dwellers are feeling financially secure.
Two-wheeler sales have fallen steadily since the virus hit Indian shores, a pointer to how all is not well in the country’s villages. The second wave of the pandemic is said to have been especially devastating for farmers and labourers, not to mention the millions of migrant workers who returned home without a job.
Now, industry analysts place all hope on providence — in the form of the rain gods, as well as the religious-social festivals that start from August-end.
Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (FADA) which released June retail figures on Thursday morning said it anticipated continued economic pressures and supply challenges for the two-wheeler market. The erratic monsoon has also raised concerns about yield and potentially impacting sales in rural areas.
“In comparison to pre-COVID levels, the overall auto retail marked a marginal decrease of 3 per cent, with 2W as the sole laggard. Conversely, the CV segment experienced a 1.5 per cent growth compared to June'19, surpassing the pre-COVID levels for the first time,” said Manish Raj Singhania, FADA president. The association’s outlook for the near term? Cautiously optimistic.