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SIAM mulls taking the retail sales data route to gauge actual demand in market

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) is exploring the option of releasing retail sales data of automobile companies instead of wholesale data — based on the despatch to dealers — that it has been publishing so far.

According to sources, SIAM is taking opinions from different members about what data parameters will reflect correct retail sales data.

“Discussions have been on for some time about this, but it is not an easy issue as OEMs are not responsible for sales to customers; dealers are,” said an industry player on conditions of anonymity.

SIAM did not respond to BusinessLine’s queries on this matter. Details like when SIAM is planning to start releasing retail sales numbers and what stage the discussions have reached, are not known.

Focus on retail data

Of late, there has been a renewed focus in the auto sector on the need to release the retail sales data, especially owing to the discrepancy between the wholesale and retail sales data in the past few months. The automobile dealers’ body Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA) publishes retail sales data based on vehicle registrations, which it compiles from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways’ Vahan platform. The Vahan covers 1,254 of 1,461 RTOs in the country, as of October 2020.

For instance, in October, the domestic wholesale of passenger cars recorded a growth of 10 per cent year-on-year, as per SIAM data. On the other hand, FADA had reported around 9 per cent dip in passenger vehicle retail sales during October.

Top officials of auto companies have also been discussing the need to focus on retail sales to gauge actual demand in the market, while also flagging concerns on whether the Vahan data can be a good indicator of the retail sales in the sector.

During an interview with BusinessLine in mid-November, Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director (Marketing and Sales), Maruti Suzuki, said the Vahan data may not be a good substitute for actual retail sales of automobiles, especially while taking into account sales data on a monthly basis. It only compiles data from 1,254 RTOs in the country out of a total of 1,461 RTOs, which means that a chunk of data is missing, he explained.

But at the same time the retail sales data provides a better idea of the demand compared to the wholesale despatch data, Srivastava had said.

On November 10, during a conference call with reporters post the announcement of Mahindra & Mahindra’s second quarter results, Pawan Goenka, MD and CEO, said: “I personally believe that the only real indicator of demand is retail (sales), wholesale is not an indicator of demand because wholesale can be up or down depending on whether they (OEMs) are trying to build inventory.”

“If and when OEMs say that they want to report retail sales, that will be the best thing to happen. Many countries only report retail sales, but India has not reached that stage,” said Goenka.

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