A Mahindra & Mahindra SUV parked.
A Mahindra & Mahindra SUV parked. Reuters

Indian car sales reached record highs in March as Tata Motors Ltd., Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (M&M) all posted gains auto sales.

All three companies saw record car sales in March, although Maruti Suzuki, India's largest carmaker, saw more modest gains than either Tata or M&M. Maruti Suzuki saw a 3.3 percent sales increase over March 2011, compared to M&M's 25 percent and Tata Motors' 20 percent rise in sales.

Car sales rose last month as consumers rushed to buy new cars before new excise taxes announced in last month's budget push prices higher, Reuters reported. Prices are expected to rise roughly 1.5 percent. Car sales were also helped by the government's decision not to add a tax for diesel vehicles or raise the price of diesel fuel.

Maruti Suzuki, a subsidiary of Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp., sold 125,952 vehicles in March 2012, including 13,228 for export, a 14.7 percent increase in export sales for the company. Maruti Suzuki sold more cars domestically and for export in March than ever before, and its biggest winners were the super-compact Dzire car, which sold 60.1 percent more than in March 2011, and the Gypsy, Grand Vitara and Ertiga SUVs, which collectively saw a 146.8 percent rise in sales. Sales in Maruti Suzuki's SUV category include pre-orders of the Ertiga.

Mumbai-based M&M also saw its highest sales ever during March, driven by a 33 percent increase in passenger vehicle sales. Export sales also rose 30.7 percent. The company sold a total of 47,001 vehicles in March.

Mumbai's Tata sold more than 100,000 vehicles for the first time in its history in March, a 20 percent increase over its sales the same time last year. Tata's record sales were driven by a 17 percent increase in domestic commercial vehicle sales and a 30 percent rise in domestic passenger vehicle sales. Tata's passenger vehicles sales numbers include cars manufactured and sold through its joint venture with Fiat.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), which is owned by Tata, also saw an increase in March sales in India. JLR sales rose 157 percent over last year with the introduction of the Range Rover Evoque, Jaguar XKR-S and Jaguar 2012 model year vehicles.