Zero passenger vehicle sales were recorded in India, the world’s second most populous country, last month due to a sweeping nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the novel Coronavirus.
In April 2019, the country recorded 247,541 passenger vehicle sales, as well as 68,680 commercial vehicles, and 1.68 million two- and three-wheeled vehicles.
Talking to Business Today, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers estimates the industry has lost around 700 billion rupees ($14.3 billion) during the month of April.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the Indian auto market was battling a slump.
Passenger vehicle sales dropped from 3.29 million in the 2018-19 financial year to 2.77 million for 2019-2020, a fall of over 15 per cent.
The country was placed in lockdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with four hours notice on March 24, with all businesses shutdown except for health care services and grocery stores.
This has meant all car factories, as well as dealerships, were shut for all of April. Ports were partially reopened during the month, so some automakers did manage to squeeze out a few exports.
Depending on the region, and the local situation, lockdown restrictions in India are being eased starting this week even though infection rate is turning sharply upwards.
Naveen Soni, head of sales at Toyota Kirloskar, warns “[restarting] of the entire value chain cycle… will be gradual” as automakers will need to get workers back, restore supply chains, and battle low consumer sentiment.