* Industry body cuts FY13 car sales growth to just 1-3 pct
* High interest rates, slowing GDP growth weighs
* Motorcycle sales f'cast cut to 5-7 pct, commercial
vehicles to 3-5 pct
* Sept car sales slide 5.4 pct, second straight monthly fall
(Adds quotes, industry comment and data details)
By Anurag Kotoky
NEW DELHI, Oct 10 India's car sales are seen
growing just 1 percent to 3 percent in the current financial
year, an industry body said, slashing its previous estimates as
high interest rates and slowing economic growth continue to
stifle a once-booming industry.
Production cuts and temporary plant shutdowns have marked a
torrid 2012 for India's auto industry, a key market for global
automakers hungry for growth, and compounded fears of an
economic slowdown in Asia's third-largest economy.
"Slowdown in economic growth and hence subdued rise in
income, along with rising cost of ownership will further
decelerate growth," said S. Sandilya, president of the Society
of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.
"This trend is likely to continue for some time until the
economy comes back on track."
Car sales in India grew more than 20 percent in the fiscal
year that ended in March 2011, attracting billions of dollars in
investment from global automakers.
"The earlier figure of around 10 percent will not be
possible, it was too high," R.C. Bhargava, chairman of Maruti
Suzuki, India's biggest car maker, told Reuters.
"But 1 to 3 percent is a little on the low side. I don't
think that the situation is that bad," Bhargava said, adding
that he expected sales to grow 5 percent to 6 percent.
Sales in India fell 5.4 percent in September, the second
consecutive monthly slide, according to data released by SIAM
earlier on Wednesday. SIAM had already cut its initial estimate
of 10 percent to 12 percent growth to 9 percent to 11 percent.
SIAM also cut its motorcycle sales growth estimate for the
year to 5 percent to 7 percent, from 11 percent to 13 percent
previously. Commercial vehicle sales are seen growing 3 percent
to 5 percent, SIAM said, down from 6 percent to 8 percent.
India's automotive industry could miss a 2016 target of $160
billion turnover by about $30 billion if the current trends
continue, Sandilya added.
A hike in the price of subsidised diesel in September pushed
up ownership costs and forced almost all of the country's
automakers to increase the price of their vehicles due to
increased freight costs, further dampening demand.
Car makers have said that they expect sales to pick up
during India's festival season in October and November, when
people typically choose to make big-ticket purchases.
(Writing and additional reporting by Henry Foy in MUMBAI;
Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)