India's wholesale passenger vehicles sales volume grew 7.2% in December as demand for utility vehicles (UV) soared, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said on Friday.

Wholesale passenger vehicle volumes rose to 235,309 units in December from 219,421 units a year ago, and hit a record high of nearly 3.8 million units for calendar 2022, said SIAM, which records sales to dealers.

Earlier this month, the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA), which publishes retail sales data, also reported passenger vehicle sales hit an all-time high of 3.43 million units in 2022.

Auto sales numbers are keenly watched, as they are one of the key indicators used to assess private consumption, carrying more than 50% weightage in calculating the country's economic growth.

While the festive season helped sales across all vehicle segments last month, rural demand continued to be weak due to high food prices and financing costs, SIAM Director General Rajesh Menon said in a press release.

Sales of the now-popular and mostly pricier UVs outnumbered that of passenger cars – which include entry-level cars and sedans – in December and the full year, according to SIAM data.

Two-wheeler sales, an indicator of the financial health of India's lower- to middle-income households, were up nearly 3% for the month and 7.4% for the year.

However, FADA had warned that retail sales could be hit in the current quarter, with stricter fuel efficiency norms aimed at reducing carbon emissions set to come into effect from April this year.

(Reporting by Nandan Mandayam in Bengaluru; Editing by Janane Venkatraman)