Indian car sales jump 31 percent

NEW DELHI, August 10, 2009 (AFP) – Indian car sales jumped for a sixth straight month in July, climbing an annual 31 percent, as new launches and cheaper finance boosted demand, industry figures showed Monday. Domestic passenger car sales rose to 115,067 units in July from 87,901 units a year ago, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said in a statement.

Falling interest rates and a spate of new models have helped stoke demand in the country of nearly 1.2 billion people, manufacturers say.

Sales of commercial vehicles, seen as an important barometer of economic health, jumped by 9.6 percent to 37,624 units, ending nearly a year of continuous decline.

India’s economy grew by a better-than-expected 5.8 percent in the quarter ended March.

But a weak monsoon has clouded the outlook for growth in the months ahead as rural areas, where some 700 million people live, feel the impact of poor harvests.

Motorcycle sales climbed 19.48 percent to 546,245 units in July from a year earlier.

The country’s vehicle makers cut prices following a government reduction in value-added tax last December, part of a stimulus package to help the sector.

Vehicle manufacture