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March belies hopes so far; Maruti to halt production for two days

Our Bureau

New Delhi , March 18

THE first half of March has not brought total recovery to the passenger car market. The market witnessed a high double-digit growth in the April-January period this fiscal, though it dipped by 4.2 per cent in February.

March's slow growth, especially for the market leader Maruti Udyog Ltd, is being attributed by market analysts largely to two prime reasons - no "encouraging factor'' in the recent Budget and uncertainty in the market about the implementation of the VAT regime. However, car dealers here put the blame on the "inauspicious period" for buying that spans across nearly two weeks prior to Holi in North India.

Maruti today announced its plan to stop production for two days this month as demand had lagged expectations. In a statement, it said it had planned "substantially higher production" for March in expectation of "major growth" in the passenger car market. "The growth, however, has not materialised to the extent anticipated."

Even so, Maruti said its sales during the month are expected to be the highest monthly sales ever in the company's history.

Till date, Maruti's highest ever monthly sales were recorded in March 2004, in which it sold a total of 52,700 vehicles (inclusive of passenger cars, utility vehicles and exports).

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