The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, or SIAM, the top body representing all major vehicle and vehicular engine manufacturers in India, said on Monday that vehicle sales took a big hit in the month of March, due to weak demand amid the spreading Covid-19 pandemic.

The organisation said in its monthly report that sales of commercial vehicles dipped by 88.05% in March to just 13,027 units, over the corresponding month in 2019.

The automobile sector had been struggling before the Covid-19 pandemic hit India, but SIAM data showed that the situation worsened in March. Passenger vehicles sales dropped 51% in March. SIAM said passenger vehicle sales stood at 1,43,014 units last month, as against 2,91,861 units in the corresponding period a year ago. Sales of three-wheeler vehicles were down 58.34% to 27,608 units, and those of two-wheeler vehicles 39.83% to 8,66,849 units.

The Centre had imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown on March 25 to combat the spread of Covid-19. Most states had in the week preceding March 25 imposed their own lockdowns and curfews.

“Automobile industry witnessed one of its sharpest decline in domestic sales in March 2020 due to subdued demand and consumer sentiments which was further aggravated by the Covid-19 outbreak in the country,” SIAM Director General Rajesh Menon said according to NDTV.

Furthermore, passenger vehicles sales fell by 17.82% to 2,775,679 units from April 2019 to March 2020, compared to 3,377,389 units in the April 2018 to March 2019 period. Sales of commercial vehicles stood at 7,17,688 units in the April 2019 to March 2020 period compared to 1,007,311 units in April 2018-March 2019, a decline of 28.75%, SIAM said.