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India's passenger vehicle sales to grow 9%-10% in 2024 - Crisil Ratings

FILE PHOTO: Vehicles are pictured at a toll post in Mumbai

BENGALURU (Reuters) - India's passenger vehicle sales are expected grow about 9%-10% in fiscal year 2024, roughly 20% above pre-pandemic peak levels, as strong demand and easing chip shortages prop-up the world's fourth-largest car market, ratings agency Crisil said on Tuesday.

Higher incomes and a strong order book driven by pent-up demand, especially for sport utility vehicles (SUVs), will support domestic growth even as exports remain sluggish, helping vehicle sales touch a record of 5 million units in the next fiscal year, Crisil Ratings said.

Sharper focus by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) on SUVs, including compact SUVs, fuelled by customer preference, "is driving growth, even as sales of sedans and entry level passenger cars remains sluggish," Anuj Sethi, senior director at the agency said.

SUVs are expected to nearly double their share in overall domestic sales to roughly 55% in fiscal 2024 from about 28% in fiscal 2018, Sethi said.

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Strong demand should help soften a hit to car part manufacturers from higher costs due to new regulations which require all vehicles to achieve emission targets in real-world conditions, besides being tested in a laboratory environment, Crisil said.

Operating margins are expected to improve to 9%-10% next fiscal from 8.0%-8.5% this fiscal, which should help OEMs set up additional capacity including for electric vehicles.

Major disruptions in the electric vehicle space are unlikely given the slow addition of charging infrastructure, but this could gather pace over time, Crisil said. The share of electric vehicles is at 1% of total sales currently.

Industry auto sales data for the month of February is due on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Navamya Ganesh Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee)