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Fiat Chrysler expects festivals to push India sales to pre-Covid level

Partha Datta, president and managing director of the company in India, says the coronavirus pandemic made an indelible mark on the industry

Fiat | Fiat Chrysler | Coronavirus

T E Narasimhan  |  New Delhi 

Photo: Reuters
In July, FCA launched a Jeep Compass Global Limited Edition ‘Night Eagle’. Photo: Reuters

Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) India has said the company’s quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) sales are rising, and expects the figure to touch pre-Covid levels during the festival season.

The firm added it was planning to go ahead with new launches as it anticipates considerable recovery in the industry when its new products hit the market.

Partha Datta, president and managing director, FCA India, said the pandemic has left an indelible mark on the Indian automobile industry.

“April was the worst month in the industry’s history and we were adversely impacted in that month as well. But we made a quick recovery in May and our sales have been growing month over month ever since. Our August to September sales growth was a healthy 18 per cent,” said Datta, who expects a 30 per cent growth over September.

Sales growth in the third quarter of CY20 was 6x its second quarter sales, and almost equal to its Q1 sales volume.

However, Datta said it would take some time for the market to fully bounce back to previous year’s levels. This is because the pandemic has left a deep impact on consumer sentiment.

In the last three years, the company sold over 50,000 Jeep Compass SUVs in India. There is pent up demand in the market, which has been sluggish for over five months now.

He added that there was no change in the company’s new launch plans. “We had planned new products for 2021. So, we are not really affected on the product front in 2020.”

A section of customers, which was earlier using public transport, is now apprehensive of doing so, citing exposure to the virus. This section is, hence, now opting for personal vehicles.

Many customers are considering used vehicles in the premium segment. So, in May, FCA India launched its new certified used vehicle business.

With car owners upgrading to the Jeep Compass, pre-owned vehicle sales are adding almost 10 per cent to the company’s total sales monthly, said Datta. The company also partnered Orix for leased cars.

On manufacturing, while the company is refusing to share capacity utilisation, he said FCA continues to optimise manufacturing utilisation at the Ranjangaon facility.

With new products slated to launch next year, installed capacity will be even better utilised.

On the supply chain, Datta said during the months of April and May there were some issues. Supply chains, locally and internationally, were disrupted for multiple reasons. Sudden lockdowns, prolonged interstate travel restrictions and limited freight schedules slowed down supply chains considerably.

“Our supply chain apparatus has adapted and is now fully operational to the pre-Covid level efficiency – including our parts warehouse in Chakan. Our vehicle logistics have gathered pace and are expected to exceed pre-Covid level of operations in the festive season,” said Datta.

On exports, he said, from October 2017, FCA started exporting Compass to international right-hand drive markets. As of this month, FCA exported over 20,000 units of the made-in-India Jeep to over 13 international right-hand drive markets. Demand from these markets, including Australia, Japan, and the ASEAN egion, among others, continues to be strong.

As regards the launch of electric vehicles, Datta said that FCA had a wide range of EVs in its global portfolio, and the latest technology was available within the group.

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First Published: Sun, October 18 2020. 13:07 IST