March 17, 2020 / 3:08 PM / in 24 days

India auto dealers seek to extend sales of older vehicles due to coronavirus

Vehicles drive past stores on a street in Mumbai September 11, 2013. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian industry body representing thousands of auto dealers said on Tuesday it had asked the Supreme Court to allow sales of vehicles with older emissions technology beyond March as the sector takes a battering from the coronavirus outbreak.

The Supreme Court in October 2018 said that all vehicles sold in the country after March 31, 2020 would need to adhere to stricter emission norms.

The Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (FADA) said in a statement on Tuesday it had filed a request with the court to allow the sales until May 31, 2020, arguing that “there has been a drastic change in circumstances in conducting business as usual” due to the coronavirus.

The spread of coronavirus, that has so far infected 137 people in India, has slowed demand for automobiles and led to a 60%-70% drop in sales in recent days, the FADA said in its statement.

The biggest issue is with motorbikes and dealers are sitting on about 835,000 units of unsold inventory worth 46 billion rupees ($619.45 million), the FADA estimates.

Indian automakers and dealers have already been grappling with a fall in auto sales since last year owing to an economic slowdown which has hurt consumer sentiment.

The FADA also said that many of its members may face closure if leftover unsold stock that uses older emissions technology vehicles can not be sold.

Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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