The sales of India's COVID-19-battered automobile companies in May remained at historic low levels, as factories came back to life and dealerships opened up, but customers stayed away.
The pandemic has not only devastated domestic retail sales but has now put a major proportion of jobs dependent on the sector in jeopardy.
However, the month saw gradual opening-up of factories and dealerships.
In May, automobile major Maruti Suzuki India posted total sales of 18,539 units which included 13,865 units in the domestic market and sales of 23 units to other OEMs. This represents an 86.23% decline in total sales for the month of May.
Domestic car sales witnessed a decline of 88.93% year-on-year in May.
"The company resumed its manufacturing operations post lockdown strictly in accordance with the government regulations and guidelines, from May 12 at its Manesar facility and from May 18 at its Gurugram facility," the company said in a statement.
"Production also resumed at Suzuki Motor Gujarat Pvt Ltd (SMG) from May 25. SMG manufactures cars on a contract basis for Maruti Suzuki."
As per the statement, the company exported 4,651 units following resumption of port operations at Mundra and Mumbai ports, "ensuring that all guidelines for safety were followed".
"Likewise, the company's showrooms opened in accordance with the Centre and state guidelines in a graded manner across different cities," the statement said.
"The remaining showrooms would open in due course if they are not in containment zones or if not specifically restricted by any local guidelines."
Similarly, Hyundai Motor India reported domestic sales of 6,883 units in May, whereas it managed to export 5,700 units. This represents a decline of 83.8%.
Commenting on the May sales performance, Tarun Garg, Director, Sales, Marketing & Service, Hyundai Motor India, said: "In an extremely challenging market environment, HMIL made a humble beginning towards normalcy by registering cumulative sales of 12,583 for the month of May 2020."
"... We have prepared ourselves to welcome our customers back in this 'New Normal' while ensuring adherence to safety guidelines at our showrooms and workshops and expedite economic recovery."
Another major player Mahindra & Mahindra reported a massive decline of 79% in its total vehicle sales last month to 9,560 units against 45,421 units sold in May 2019.
Furthermore, the company reported domestic sales of 9,076 units, lower by 79% from 43,056 units sold in May 2019.
M&M exported 484 units in the month under review, which is a decline of 80% on a YoY basis from 2,365 vehicles which were shipped out in May 2019.
Veejay Nakra, Chief Executive Officer, Automotive Division, Mahindra & Mahindra said: "Our performance during May has been muted, due to the challenges the industry is facing. We have opened 70 per cent of our dealerships and retail sales have begun. We are seeing initial traction for our small commercial vehicles and SUV brands such as the Bolero and Scorpio. As new lockdown norms are being announced, we are hopeful of demand gaining traction in the coming months."
On its part, Toyota Kirloskar Motor said the company sold a total of 1,639 units in the month of May 2020.
"The market has been slow and with demand being less, we have been able to wholesale only 20 per cent of what we would have clocked under a normal situation," said the Indo-Japanese joint venture's Senior Vice President for Sales and Services Naveen Soni in a statement.
"However, retail sales have been much higher when compared to wholesales, thereby helping us reduce the month closing inventory levels at dealerships. We have also seen a significant surge in customer orders and enquiries online, through digital platforms."
The company had sold a total of 12,138 units in the domestic market in the corresponding month last year, as well as exported 928 units of the Etios.
Additionally, amidst lockdown 4.0 and operational restrictions, Honda Cars India dispatched 375 units in domestic market in May 2020.
In terms of two-wheeler sales, Hero MotoCorp dispatched 112,682 units in the month of May 2020, which represents a decline of 82.71% year-on-year.
"Ensuring stringent safety protocols for employee and customer well-being, Hero MotoCorp scaled-up production in a graded manner during the month, after reopening three of its manufacturing facilities on May 4," the company said in a statement.
"All six manufacturing facilities of the company in India - at Dharuhera and Gurugram in Haryana, Haridwar in Uttarakhand, Neemrana in Rajasthan, Halol in Gujarat and Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh - have now resumed operations with limited production."
The company's manufacturing facilities at global locations - one each in Colombia and Bangladesh - will restart production during the month.
Royal Enfield which had announced the resumption of operations at its manufacturing facilities in India starting May 6, reported total sales of 19,113 units from an off-take of 62,371 units sold in the corresponding period of 2019. This is a decline of 69% year-on-year.
"In line with expectations, the May sales data for 2W OEMs contracted sharply on YoY basis amidst lockdown and gradual resumption of business activity," said Shamsher Dewan, VP and Sector Head, corporate ratings, ICRA.
"ICRA estimates healthy Rabi inflows led rural demand to drive recovery process as urban sentiments would remain weak in the near term. Overall, ICRA expects FY21 to be another year of lower sales for 2W sector."