The Indian auto industry faced a tumultuous 2019 with demand patterns being far more inconsistent than in preceding years. The transition from BS 4 to BS 6 technology also created pressures of its own with several manufacturers struggling to clear their old stocks before April 1 (2020) deadline. According to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), only around 29 lakh passenger vehicles were sold in the year, the sharpest drop in sales in 20 years. And just when it seemed like the worst may be over, it just got a whole lot more bad with a national lockdown due to coronavirus forcing OEMs to suspend production.
Silent factories and locked up families are clear indications that sales figures in March could be one of the worst ever. While supply lines were already getting disrupted for many due to coronavirus in China and the forced lockdown there, a lockdown in India may have already dealt a crushing blow to the automotive sector here.
(Also read: Auto industry’s coronavirus fears shifting from supply to demand)
The lockdown is in force till April 14 which means people are cooped up inside their homes and only stepping out for essential commodities. At such a time, automobile shopping is understandably invisible. Besides, showrooms and dealers are shut anyway and even if some OEMs have begun pushing online sales platform, the figures from the month could well be pitiful.
Several car manufacturers like Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra and Mahindra have joined the battle against coronavirus by manufacturing key medical equipment - either directly or indirectly. Hyundai's CSR wing has ordered medical testing kit for coronavirus from South Korea. Many others are donating to relief funds.
With over 1,000 positive cases reported from across the country, India is still right in the middle of its fight against coronavirus. The economic fallout of the lockdown may only be known in detail once the disease is successfuly controlled.