Automobile sales declined for the tenth consecutive month in August as passenger vehicle sales fell 31.6% since the same month last year, Reuters reported, citing data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. This was the steepest decline in a month ever since the group began compiling the data in 1997-’98.

Passenger vehicle sales declined to 1,96,524 units in August, while passenger car sales fell to 1,15,957 units. The decline in passenger car sales was 41.09%, also the worst ever slump.

The sales of vans declined 47.4%, while commercial vehicles saw a fall of 38.7% in sales. Two-wheelers witnessed a 22.2% decline in sales in August. The sales of three-wheelers and utility vehicles were also down, 6.9% and 2.2% respectively. All declines were on a year-on-year basis, or when compared to the same month last year.

In July, passenger vehicle sales had declined 30.9% – the steepest decline since December 2000. The industry has been in crisis, with 15,000 jobs lost in the last quarter and almost 300 dealerships closed in the last 18 months. The decline in consumer confidence, coupled with a crisis in non-banking finance companies, have caused a steep fall in passenger car sales.

Carmaker Maruti Suzuki last week decided to shut down operations at its plants in Gurugram and Manesar in Haryana on September 7 and September 9. Earlier on Monday, commercial vehicle manufacturer Ashok Leyland said seven of its facilities will have up to 18 non-working days this month because of continued weak demand for its products.

Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Thursday assured the industry of all the help it needs from the government, including discussion on the matter of reduction in Goods and Services Tax with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Gadkari said the government was planning to reduce GST on hybrid electric vehicles, similar to the reduction for electric vehicles, from 12% to 5%. He added that he would discuss the possibility of providing export incentives to automobile makers like it was done in the sugar industry.

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