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India's car sales fall in January as economy slows, ownership cost rises

Vehicles are pictured at a toll post in Mumbai, August 13, 2019. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Car sales in India fell for the 15th consecutive month in January, as slowing economic growth and rising cost of car ownership made consumers reluctant to spend, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said on Monday.

Passenger vehicle sales fell 6.2% in January to 262,714 units from 280,091 units in 2019. But sales of sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) rose 2.6%, helped by the launch of new models, data released by SIAM showed.

Sales of motorbikes and scooters, widely seen as an indicator of the health of the rural economy, fell 16% in January, while sales of trucks, a barometer of overall economic growth, dropped 14%.

“Sales of vehicles continue to be stressed due to rising cost of vehicle ownership and slower growth in GDP (gross domestic product),” SIAM President Rajan Wadhera said.

The auto industry is also gearing up for a shift to stricter emission norms from April 1, 2020 which will push up the price of vehicles by 8% to 10%, further hurting demand, Wadhera said earlier in January.

Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Edmund Blair