Car sales drop slightly, unlikely to impact traffic

Car sales drop slightly, unlikely to impact traffic

Dealers report a decline in numbers, but Bengaluru has long way to go to improve traffic issues

Automobiles sales in the city have dipped marginally and dealers are citing city’s choked traffic as one of the reasons.

Fewer private vehicles can’t be such a bad thing in Bengaluru, but the fall won’t make a big difference, an expert says.

Automobiles sales in the city have dipped marginally, and dealers cite the city’s choked traffic and lack of parking for it.

Fewer private vehicles can’t be such a bad thing in Bengaluru, but the fall won’t make a big difference, an expert says.

The Land Rover dealership sells 20 cars a month, and that is lower than what they used to sell in 2017.

Rajesh B R, marketing head, Land Rover Marqland, says many factors affect the sales of cars in the premium category.

“In 2017-18, we sold 250 cars, while the year before, we sold 264 cars. There has been a depression in sales,” he says.

Rajesh believes jam-packed roads could be a reason for lower sales of automobiles. “This applies to all vehicles on the road,” he says, attributing lower sales of Land Rovers, considered a luxury option, to competition and increased prices. 

Safety and comfort push customers to private cars, and that has stopped sales from taking a bigger fall, say some car dealers.    

“Looking at our total sales, 30 to 40 per cent are first-time buyers, while the rest are looking for upgrades. Since our public transport system is as mature as in other countries, the use of cars hasn’t dropped drastically,” says L N Ajay Singh, director of sales and marketing, Advaith Hyundai, Residency Road.

Despite easy availability of cabs, families like the idea of a car for themselves, he observes.                                    

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“Around 60 to 70 per cent of our total sales are smaller cars such as Santro, Grand and i20,” says Singh.

Over the years, segments see a dip in sales. What was trending or selling in the last two years might not be popular now, he says.

A dealer for Maruti Suzuki, who did not want to be named for this story, says sales have indeed gone down. “It has to do with the increase in fuel prices, higher interest rates and lower liquidity in the market,” he says. 

He puts the decline to five per cent since last year. “Bengaluru’s traffic has always been a problem but it is not the only reason affecting automobile sales,” he says.

Other dealers say competition has led to lower volumes across the board.

A sales manager at a Honda dealership says, “Compared to 2017, sales have dropped by 20 per cent. This is because of many reasons, including bad roads, lack of parking and choc-o-bloc traffic.”

He says many customers are now apprehensive about owning vehicles and are using cabs.

Decline negligible, says expert

The decline in the sale of private vehicles is negligible and can’t mitigate the city’s worsening traffic, says Prof M R Sreehari, traffic advisor and consultant for the Karnataka government.

“Our traffic situation is alarming. About 4,000 vehicles are added to the chaos every day. No city in the country experiences as many registrations as Bengaluru does,” he says.

Sreehari recommends urgent corrective measures. “The government should restrict registrations and make stringent rules against parking on roads. A citizen who owns a four-wheeler shouldn't be allowed to register another,” he says.