In October, car registration at the public vehicles department (PVD), the regional transport office for the core city area, increased by 15% against last year’s and two-wheeler registrations climbed by over 150%.
“If you watch the trend, the growth of registration is overwhelmingly limited to personalized vehicles, like cars and two-wheelers. Once the unlock began, people were scared to travel to their workplaces on public transport. Even those who used to take cabs were jittery. The decision to buy a car or bike was largely driven by safety concerns,” said a transport department officer.
Experts said lack of sales in April and May due to the lockdown and poor numbers in June and July due to supply and production constraints were now being compensated. “Overall, the industry is still in the negative with April-October sales in 2020 lagging behind the corresponding period in 2019. If the sales continue next year, it will also signal a turnaround in the economy,” said a functionary at Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, the umbrella body of major auto firms.
In rest of Bengal, registration of personalized vehicles in October 2020 started surpassing the figures of that month in 2019 and 2018 in September. In August 2020, car registrations rose to 6,256 from 5,574 in August 2019. But a steadier rise was seen from September, when the registration rose to 9,312 from 6,912 and 5,892 in September of 2019 and 2018. In October, despite fewer working days, it grew to 9,408 from 5,401 and 6,033 in the same month in 2019 and 2018.
Similarly, the registration of motorcycles zoomed to 1,03,140 in September this year, compared to 87,833 and 42,317 in October of 2019 and 2018 respectively. In October, 83,141 two-wheelers were registered against 47,965 and 31,582 in the same month in 2019 and 2018.
“Though Kolkata’s sales spurt is significant, it may not augur well for a city known for its public transport system,” said transportation expert Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, Centre for Science and Environment.