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In India auto sales decline for 10th straight month, worst slump in almost two decades

Sales of cars and SUVs in India declined for a 10th month in August, as the worst slump in almost two decades for the country’s auto sector shows no sign of letting up.

Deliveries fell 41% from a year earlier to 115,957 units, according to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) on Monday. Truck and bus sales dropped 39%. Two-wheeler sales — a key indicator of demand in rural India — fell 22% to 1.5 million units.

The automobile sector is a key part of Asia’s third-largest economy, employing millions of people directly or indirectly and contributing more than 7% to the nation’s gross domestic product, according to McKinsey & Co. Slowing income growth for farmers in rural India has contributed to a fall in sales.

Companies from Suzuki Motor Corp.’s local unit to Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. have cut production and laid off workers to cope with the slowdown. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has lifted a ban on new vehicle purchases by state-run departments and offered other concessions. Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari last week said he’ll convey a demand for a lower levy on petrol and diesel vehicles to the finance minister.

Domestic passenger vehicle sales fell for the tenth straight month in August, declining 31.57% to 1,96,524 units from 2,87,198 units in the year-ago period.

Motorcycle sales last month declined 22.33% to 9,37,486 units as against 12,07,005 units a year earlier.

Total two-wheeler sales in August declined 22.24% to 15,14,196 units compared to 19,47,304 units in the year-ago month. Sales of commercial vehicles were down 38.71% to 51,897 units in August, SIAM said.

Vehicle sales across categories registered a decline of 23.55% to 18,21,490 units from 23,82,436 units in August 2018, it added. In fact, all vehicle categories witnessed decline in sales during the month.

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