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COVID-19 and the uncertain Indian automotive scene

One can expect tremendous uncertainty ahead of the Indian automobile industry that may cause the fraternity to re-plan its selling strategies post COVID. Consumer preferences are undergoing rapid changes and several unprecedented waves are expected to hit the industry. Find out more about these key trends in this article.

  1. Life will be based on economics- The all-important factor that seals deals for customers will be the available discount, which is considered standard during the year and tend to become high in the festive season. About 40% of vehicle sales take place during the festive season in India. During the corona pandemic, the purchase made will certainly be downsized, and so, a majority of customers will be on the lookout for small cars at low price points. Hatchbacks are expected to make a major return while MPVs and SUVs may lose out.  
  2. Coronavirus will transform customers- Most businesses will face downturns and uncertainty will loom large over their futures. While traders, businessmen, entrepreneurs, and rural buyers would buy the maximum vehicles earlier, such buyers will try to preserve resources now. Digital sales will now take precedence over brick and mortar sales, and companies like Tata Motors have already jumped into it.
  3. Customers will choose the segment leader during this crisis- Maruti Suzuki stands to gain tremendously during this lockdown period. It has been keenly focusing on the development of small cars, with upgrades and changes to WagonR, Alto, Celerio and the launch of the new SPresso. Mightier vehicles are being sold by Kia and Hyundai, but they are likely to be beaten by the sub-4m cars once the lockdown period gets over. Purchase cycles will also be longer since customers would look to buy essential items and avoid spends on cars till improvement in the market.
  4. Fossil fuels will be cheaper- Development for EVs will be slowed and fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel will be more affordable than earlier. Additionally, petrol and diesel vehicles are also cheaper than EVs.

History has shown customers to side with market leaders during times of crisis. Maruti Suzuki in passenger cars, Hero MotoCorp in two-wheelers, and Tata Motors in the CV segment have prevailed during both the 1997 ASEAN financial crisis and the 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse. This is also the time when a lot of customers are likely to prefer used cars over new ones. Cars will the highest value and the lowest cost of running will be popular in the market.