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Indian auto sales fall but exports sustain growth

INDIA'S automobile sales fell 3.6 percent in May from the year before to 171,623 vehicles while exports continued to grow, according to industry figures released yesterday.

The drop in domestic sales reverses three months of moderate gains that had raised hopes that falling interest rates and government stimulus measures were supporting India's auto market.

Sales of passenger cars slipped 0.8 percent to 140,823 units, while commercial vehicle sales declined 14.8 percent to 30,800 units, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers said.

Market leader Maruti Suzuki India Ltd continued to dominate, with sales rising 9.7 percent to 62,878 cars, and exports surging 90.7 percent to 9,012 cars, according to SIAM.

Hyundai Motor India Ltd's domestic sales sank 4.1 percent to 23,501 cars. The company is India's biggest exporter - its exports rose 27.8 percent to 20,125 cars, the figures showed.

Tata Motors, India's largest commercial vehicle maker and creator of the ultra-cheap Nano passenger car, said domestic sales slid 11 percent to 38,392 vehicles, and exports plummeted 47 percent to 1,804 units in May.

American auto makers have so far made meager progress penetrating India's small but promising car market as they look for ways to offset poor business at home.

General Motors India Ltd sold 3,890 passenger cars in May, up 1.1 percent from the year before, while Ford India Ltd sold 1,984 cars, up 15.3 percent from the year before, SIAM said.

Indian exports of passenger vehicles accelerated 39.2 percent, to 29,763 units.


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