MUMBAI — India’s top auto makers Tata Motors Ltd. and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. ended 2011 with growth in vehicle sales for December, as diesel-powered vehicles remained insulated from the demand slowdown in the local auto industry.
Tata Motors, India’s biggest car maker by sales, sold 82,278 units in December, up 22% on year, the company said in a press release. Mahindra, the market leader in sport utility vehicles, sold 42,761 vehicles, up 26%.
India’s auto industry has been persistently troubled by high interest rates and fuel costs, hurting consumer demand. However, preferences are shifting to diesel vehicles due to their higher efficiency, and as the fuel is cheaper than gasoline.
Tata Motors sells some of India’s cheapest diesel-powered passenger cars such as the Indica. Mahindra has mostly diesel-powered vehicles in its portfolio.
A recent report from Deloitte said overall demand in the country’s auto sector, until 2010 one of the fastest growing in the world, is slated to improve in 2012 as inflation concerns ease and fuel prices likely stabilize.
Tata Motors sold 29,417 passenger vehicles such as the Indica, Vista, Indigo and Aria in December, up 27% from a year earlier. Sales of the Nano minicar, sold as the cheapest car in the world, rose 29% to 7,466 units.
India’s biggest maker of commercial vehicles sold 47,747 trucks and buses in the month, up 14%. However, exports in December fell 3% to 5,615 units.
Mahindra & Mahindra’s sales growth was led by higher volumes in passenger vehicles, which includes utility vehicles and the Verito. Sales in the segment grew 24% to 19,341 units in December. Mahindra, which stopped booking the XUV5OO, after being flooded with orders following a September launch, said it will re-open bookings this month.
The company also sells the Scorpio, Xylo, Bolero and Thar utility vehicles and the Gio, Maxximo and Genio light trucks.
It exported 2870 vehicles during the month, up 89% on year.
Sales of Toyota Kirloskar Motor, the Indian unit of Toyota Motor Corp. more than doubled in December to 15,948 units, compared with 6,362 units a year ago.
Sales of its Etios series topped yearly volume, with 43,313 units of Etios sedans and 20,262 units of Liva hatchbacks sold in 2011, a press release said.