Vehicle registration data — a proxy for sales — sourced by two industry bodies from the ministry of road transport and highways appears to be sharply divergent and may prove to be another conundrum for the automobile industry that’s been battling a protracted slowdown.

While figures collated from the ministry’s VAHAN dashboard and shared by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) on October 11 showed an uptick in registration of passenger vehicles and two-wheelers in September, statistics sourced from the same site by the Federation of Automobile Dealers’ Associations (FADA) less than a week later revealed a double-digit decline in retail numbers.

SIAM executives are set to meet officials of the National Informatics Centre on Monday to address the discrepancy.

“The auto industry retails were under pressure during the month and the degrowth was on expected lines,” FADA president Ashish Kale said on Friday.

‘Website was Being Upgraded’

“SIAM sourced data from VAHAN thrice this month – on October 4, 10 and 17,” a person aware of the development told ET. “The data seem to be changing daily. And on all three occasions, not only were the September 2019 numbers varying, but also that of September 2018.”

As per data shared by SIAM on October 11, vehicle sales rose 6.48% to 1,732,617 units last month. The ministry site does not reflect registration data of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep, SIAM had stated in its statement.

FADA, which issued retail sales numbers on Friday, had a different story, one that was more aligned to the slowdown battering the industry for over a year now. As per the data available with FADA, vehicle sales dropped 12.9% to 1,375,314 units in September. The figures were collated by FADA on October 15 and reflect data from 1,188 regional transport offices.

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Kale said the VAHAN website was being upgraded and there had not been much clarity over the August 2019 data.

“We have our own methodology on arriving at the data shared. We were not clear about August numbers and hence did not share them. But the upgrading work on the website got over by the middle of last month. So, we sourced the numbers on October 15,” he said.

Apart from regular vehicles, VAHAN captures registration data for other categories including tractors, farm equipment, construction equipment and electric vehicles, which could skew the data.

“VAHAN database is much wider than the SIAM universe. Whatever VAHAN captures, FADA filters that data so that it is an apple-toapple comparison,” a person aware of the working of the dealers’ body told ET. Inventory with twowheeler retailers remained high in September, at an average level of 60 to 65 days against the norm of 30 days, the FADA data showed.

The inventory with passenger vehicles increased to an average of 30-35 days from 25-30 days in August. This could be on account of automakers increasing wholesale purchases from manufacturers in anticipation of the festive period starting October, when sales typically increase.





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