Maruti sales up, but future unpredictable

November 19th, 2008 - 7:04 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) The country’s largest automaker, Maruti Suzuki India, registered a 4 percent increase in sales in the first seven months this fiscal, as compared to the corresponding period last year, but says it has no idea how it would fare in the remaining five months. The company recorded sales of 446,525 units for the April-October period, as against 429,909 units in the same period last year.

“Till October, sales and production were up 4 percent, but we can’t really predict on what is going to happen in the next five months. Hopefully, the situation will get better but we will get a clear picture only by February,” company chairman R.C. Bhargava said Wednesday on the sidelines of the launch of Maruti’s latest model, A-star.

The company is now betting on A-star, priced in the Rs.347,000-Rs.420,000 range, to prop up its exports despite the sluggish sales and plummeting bottomlines globally.

“European markets are bad but the demand is shifting from sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to smaller fuel-efficient and environment-friendly vehicles which we can provide,” Bhargava said.

Maruti exported around 53,000 cars last year to over 40 countries and said it had plans of crossing exports of 200,000 cars by 2010 on the back of models like the Swift and A-star.

However, its profit margins have shrunk on account of rising costs of input commodities like steel.

Commenting on Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s suggestion that industry cut product prices, Bhargava said: “When inputs costs went up, we didn’t pass off the entire burden to the consumer. We will have to wait and see if price cuts are possible and will take action depending on prevailing economic conditions.”

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