Unaffordable prices splutter car sales in festive month

 Year-end high spirits that customarily translates into accelerated demand for automobiles in Goa seems to be missing from the scene this year with car dealers reporting reduced enthusiasm from buyers.

Several showroom heads when contacted said that decreased buying interest could be on account of “unaffordable prices that were raised in October 2012” or “tough market conditions characterized by high interest rates.”

Less money circulating in the economy because of stoppage in mining and related activities is also another reason attributed for “overall customers turning cautious” along with generally unsatisfactory “market conditions.”

Sources at Sai Services, Maruti dealer said that although Diwali sales were about 400 units, it was “of usual standards and nothing spectacular.” However, “sales have definitely slowed down since then with a 10-15 per cent drop in numbers.” As such, “the traditional pick-up in sales is yet to take place.”

Demand for cars starts for the festive season and starts from Ganesh Chaturthi onwards in Goa. The seasonal surge continues right up to January with Diwali and Christmas being robust month for customer purchases.

According to Mr Satish Sathihalli, general manager, Caculo Ford, “Economy priced models are not facing any demand slump, but the slowdown is in the ‘B’ class and the ‘C’ class segments, that are priced higher.”

Mr Sathihalli adds that the number of customers visiting showrooms has “dropped and most people are content with making enquiries on phone.” However, he pointed out that December being a financial year end for Ford, it has plenty of schemes for buyers, and response to them has “more or less been on track with previous year.” In December 2011, Caculo Ford had 26 bookings a day and 2012 has been no different.”

Speaking to The Navhind Times, Mr Alvin de Souza, CEO, Audi Goa said that “all high end cars have been affected by the ban in mining.” High-end cars, he added, are due for a price hike in January 2013, so one of the sales strategy would be “to persuade customers to prepone bookings to the current year.”

Meanwhile, sources at Chowgule Motors, Panaji, Maruti dealer said that “demand slowdown is in the C segment, but in the other segments they were in “no way affected.” Diwali sales of Chowgule was 520 units, said the senior source and overall “growth has been at 12 per cent.”

Others who said that they fared well are Sharayu Tayota, where a company official said that Atio and Liva are both receiving a good response from the market, with the former “finding acceptance from tourist taxis.” At the same time the official conceded that in a “cash crunch, that is presently the situation, people think twice about spending money.” [NT]