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India's Feb bike sales climb on wedding demand, easing chip shortages

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By Nandan Mandayam

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Two of India's top three listed bike makers beat domestic sales estimates in February as chip supply shortages eased, while passenger vehicle sales continued to grow on the back of demand for utility vehicles.

Domestic two-wheeler sales, which is indicative of the financial health of India's rural economy and demand in the country's largest consumption segment loosely defined as lower middle-income households, grew in double digits from a year earlier.

Analysts had expected a rise in domestic two-wheeler sales led by wedding season-driven demand and an easing in shortage of chips.

TVS Motor Co Ltd posted the biggest growth in domestic sales at about 28%, while Bajaj Auto Ltd grew 24.7% and Hero MotoCorp Ltd more than 15%.

Bajaj missed Emkay Global and Nomura analysts' expectation of a 45% and 43% jump in domestic sales respectively, while Hero and TVS beat the brokerages' estimates.

However, both Bajaj and TVS Motors' total monthly volumes were dragged by weak exports, with newspaper Economic Times reporting that Bajaj was mulling production cuts.

Volatility in the economies of Nigeria, other African nations and Latin American countries has hurt exports for Indian bike makers.

In the passenger vehicle (PV) segment, market leader Maruti Suzuki India Ltd reported a 10.1% rise in sales, while Tata Motors Ltd grew 7.4%.

Demand for large, popular and pricier utility vehicles stood strong, with volumes rising 32.3% at Maruti Suzuki and around 10% at Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd.

Kotak analysts said the rise in PV volumes came on the back of a modest recovery in hatchback sales and strong sports utility vehicle (SUV) sales that was aided by an improved chip supply.

Meanwhile, commercial vehicle sales grew in double digits as fleet operators and logistics firms continued to make purchases ahead of new fuel emission norms from April 1, when buses and trucks are set to become more expensive.

Ashok Leyland Ltd's volumes were up 26.7%, while Eicher Motors Ltd's monthly sales grew 24.5%. Market leader Tata reported a 2.6% drop in CV sales.

Below is a list of overall sales figures from some of India's leading auto companies that have reported so far:

Manufacturer Vehicles Sold Y/Y Growth (%)

(units)

Maruti Suzuki 172,321 5%

India

Mahindra and 58,801 8%

Mahindra

Tata Motors 79,705 2.5%

Bajaj Auto 280,226 -11.3%

Hero MotoCorp 394,460 10.1%

TVS Motor Co 276,150 -2%

Eicher Motors 71,544 20.9%

Motorcycles

Eicher Motors 7,289 24.5%

Trucks & buses

Ashok Leyland 18,571 26.7%

Mahindra and 25,791 26.2%

Mahindra Farm

Equipment

(Reporting by Nandan Mandayam in Bengaluru; Editing by Varun H K)