Indian carmakers reported record sales in January as they looked to build up inventory of new and refreshed models this calendar year, wholesale data from the companies showed on Thursday. Automakers in India release monthly wholesale numbers – or sale of vehicles to dealers – at the beginning of each month. The data is seen as a key indicator to estimate private consumption, as it has over 50% weightage in assessing the country's economic growth. Maruti Suzuki India and Hyundai's Indian unit, the country's top two carmakers, reported record sales at 199,203 units and 67,615 units, respectively.

Toyota's Indian unit also posted record sales of 24,609 units, while Tata Motors reported a 12% rise in passenger vehicle sales. Mahindra and Mahindra, among India's biggest sport utility vehicle (SUV) makers, said its wholesales in the segment rose 31% to 43,068 units. India's focus on aiding rural spending in its interim budget can help improve volumes for motorcycle maker Hero MotoCorp and boost sluggish tractor sales, Amit Hiranandani of SMIFS noted. Domestic two-wheeler sales also rose, helped mostly by improved demand for entry-level models in rural India and steady sales of mid-level motorcycles in cities.

Bajaj Auto, India's top motorcycle exporter said domestic sales grew 36%, while exports rose 14% – it's biggest rise so far this fiscal year. Two-wheeler exports have risen only three times this fiscal for Bajaj, with weakness in its key markets in Africa and South Asia. Export demand is "still far from where we would like to see it," it said last week. Eicher Motors said sales of its premium Royal Enfield motorcycles were up 2% in January.

However, sales of motorcycles with an engine capacity of up to 350cc declined 1%. Royal Enfield's sales growth has been muted for much of the fiscal, with its 350cc models facing growing competition from the Bajaj-made Triumph models and the Hero MotoCorp-made Harley Davidson X440.

Below is a list of overall sales figures for January from some of India's leading auto companies: Manufacturer Total Sales Y/Y change (%) (units) Maruti Suzuki 199,364 15.6% Mahindra & 73,944 15% Mahindra Auto Tata Motors 86,125 4% Hyundai Motor 67,615 8.5% India Toyota Kirloskar 24,609 92% Motor Bajaj Auto 356,010 24% Royal Enfield 76,187 2% Eicher Motors 7,066 -1.6% Trucks and Buses Ashok Leyland 15,939 -7% Mahindra & 23,948 -17% Mahindra Farm Equipment (Reporting by Nandan Mandayam in Bengaluru; Editing by Varun H K)