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AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY Personal mobility taking over in COVID-19 pandemic

Jul 29, 2020

An editorial analysing the impact of COVID-19 on the automotive industry by personal mobility gaining significance over public transport

After quite a low, the auto industry seems to have at last found some breather. As it turns out, the benefits have come out from the COVID-19 new normal and the social distancing norms. Automakers like Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Hyundai, Honda anticipate the demand for personal vehicles to rise in India as social distancing and the dread connected to COVID-19 restrict people from taking public transport. The industry is now settling down again under the Lockdown 3.0 program and few automakers have restarted partial operations.

With the novel coronavirus hitting the world, personal mobility has become significant. In various surveys, respondents have showed a solid inclination towards using personal modes of transportation instead of public transportation. The major cause behind this is, of course, the fear of getting infected with the virus. And with the number of positive cases continuing to boom exponentially in India, those who need to move from one place to another in cities and towns are expected to either make use of personal transport they already have or consider buying. In general, as the sales of two-wheelers grow, electric vehicle sales will also boom – maybe even faster than ICE.

The used-car market has also experienced increased business ever since the lockdown norms were lessened. Used cars in the price range of between ₹1.5 lakh and ₹4 lakh have seen a gigantic demand. Sellers of such used cars, therefore, look at this as a huge prospect. Plus, strong enquiries for passenger vehicles and two-wheelers, growing footfall post-lockdown easing in tier 2 and tier 3 cities and bigger preference for personal mobility are expected to enhance auto sales in July this year. A mass-market motorcycle or scooter could become the favoured mode of transportation for sundry people, while car buyers could settle for small cars so as to not pay very heavily. These conditions may generate demand for pre-owned cars and SUVs, too. Post-lockdown, it is estimated that the translation from enquiry to sale may take more time, people will end up downgrading their budget and buyers will be likely to select reliable brands. In fact, the profile of buyers, too, has transformed. Previously, many professionals bought used cars. But now it also includes homemakers, professors and pensioners.

When it comes to self-driven cars, many of these firms are re-strategising to endure the jolt of COVID-19 on their business. The plan involves liquidating or selling an important share of their fleet, while contributing the rest under a long-standing subscription model.

Also, on the digital front, media promotion per day for the industry shows a 13% leap between May and June. The auto brands are presently strong on the digital platform with exclusive personalised communication and profitable financial offerings. The industry’s ad volume per day on TV expanded five-fold through June 2020 in comparison with the preceding month.

The demand for personal mobility will surely surge due to customers’ necessity to guarantee personal safety. However, the situation is not as uninviting. Over the long-term, as COVID-19 is measured and India steps into the next normal, it is anticipated that the mobility industry will come back to its prior power.

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