Driving Towards Recovery

Pent-up demand and first-time car buyers will drive a V-shaped recovery of the Indian automobile industry. Also, the demand for personal vehicles would rise due to the social distancing norms that are now part of the ‘new normal’.

These, and other trends, were some of the highlights of a survey conducted by the carandbike portal to ascertain the impact of Covid-19 on the Indian automotive industry. It also revealed changes in consumer behaviour and preferences when it comes time to buy their next vehicle.

With social distancing becoming the norm, the ride sharing industry is expected to witness a slow-down with personal transport being the preferred option. While recovery forecasts for China and Europe remain bleak, India, with a penetration rate of 23 cars per 1,000 people, is expected to recover faster.

Nearly 75% of the survey respondents said they would be interested in buying a vehicle once the lockdown is lifted and this pent-up demand is expected to play a catalytic role in the industry’s revival. It is not just brand-new cars, but enquiries for used cars that are also witnessing an increase.

However, the enquiries for more expensive cars witnessed a 14% drop even as the interest in low-budget cars has picked up. Customers, especially the younger generation, are looking for budget cars, which should trigger demand for models that are priced under Rs. 3 lakhs.

Concerns about the Coronavirus and social distancing norms are expected to fuel further demand for private cars as the preferred mode of daily commutes. The demand for cars will also be fuelled by a potential shift from two-wheelers to four-wheelers. About 48% of the respondents said they are willing to upgrade to a car.

"About 35% of first-time buyers are willing to buy cars instead of two-wheelers. About 13% of customers who were earlier looking for two-wheeler earliers are now looking to upgrade and buy four-wheelers,” says Ashutosh Pandey, MD & CEO, Mahindra First Choice Wheels.

On the sales front, the phygital model will remain important even as the purchase experience will largely remain dealer-driven. The survey threw up an interesting finding. With concerns about the Corona pandemic remaining high, about 68% of respondents in metro cities expressed willingness to explore options to minimise showroom visits. Not only that, about 30% of consumers were willing to pay for a home test drive, given that most carmakers will have to completely sanitise their cars, if such test drives are to be implemented.

However, with the need for touch and feel remaining high among first-time buyers, the phygital approach will be preferred. Non-metros will, however, buck the trend with 50% of respondents indicating a willingness to visit showrooms and that too multiple times if required.

It’s not just cars, the post-lockdown scenario will also witness a spike in demand for two-wheelers. The Indian two-wheeler industry is the largest in the world and its recovery will play an important role in the revival of the Indian economy. Almost 75% of respondents expressed a strong desire to purchase a two-wheeler in the 3 months following the lifting of lockdown.

Dealer sentiment also remained high with an increase in sales within 6 months following the relaxation of the lockdown. About 72% of dealers surveyed expected supply and demand to normalise after a 3-month crunch.

Turning 90 With Style

Pininfarina, the iconic brand that combines beauty and elegance and one that is recognized as a symbol of ‘Made in Italy’, completed 90 years. It was born on May 22, 1930, when Battista Farina, known as “Pinin”, signed the deed of incorporation of Carrozzeria Pinin Farina.

Shortly thereafter, the first official Pinin special, the Lancia Dilambda, rolled out of the factory in Corso Trapani, Turin, marking the beginning of an adventure that would traverse three generations and stand witness to profound social, economic and technical changes.

Pininfarina’s 90th anniversary celebrations, which began last February at the Triennale Milano, suffered a setback due to the pandemic. However, all the events, including the Concorso di Eleganza Città di Torino and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, have been rescheduled for 2021.

The company released a special calendar that touches all the brand’s social profiles. A webinar that featured Chairman Paolo Pininfarina and CEO Silvio Pietro Angori was also held.

Pininfarina today employs 700 people, with offices in Italy, Germany, China and the United States. It is listed on the Stock Exchange since 1986 and included in the basket of Italian Listed Brands.

The company’s new design and collaborations cover diverse spheres and include:

  • Experience Design
    Pininfarina expands offerings to automotive customers through the conception, design and realisation of user experiences, in the form of a highly responsive, multi-sensorial on-board experience demonstrator, named AutonoMIA. An immersive exploration of how technology from AI to 5G, from display to haptics, and from sensors to natural interfaces can be leveraged to enchance the driving experience.
  • Automotive Engineering
    Pininfarina’s strategic collaboration with Bosch and BENTELER offers car manufacturers fast prototyping as well as complete vehicle and product development services up to start of production. This prototyping is based on a proven rolling chassis solution from Bosch and BENTELER. It saves the customer time and money, making them speed up their time-to-market even more.
  • Architecture
    A high-end enclave in Estepona, which along with Marbella and Benahavis, makes up ‘The Golden Triangle’ on the Costa del Sol, Spain. The enclave to be developed by Spanish developer EXCEM Real Estate will comprise 38 luxury residential units.
  • Industrial Design
    Conceived to appeal to the high-end international market, Residenza is the first charging station designed by Pininfarina for the residential market. It combines new features and redefining aesthetic standards and features innovative design of Pininfarina together with Green Motion engineering competencies. It combines integrated voice control and automatic cable management.

Redefining the Fan Zone

Tech Mahindra and ChampTrax Technologies, a Canadian sports startup, will collaborate to develop a solution to create stadium like-experiences at home for global sports fans. The two companies will also work on 5G-related use cases for introducing holographic virtual fans to the stadium. As part of the collaboration, Tech Mahindra will also support ChampTrax Technologies to reach wider markets and audiences for the ‘HearMeCheer’ solution that aggregates ‘crowd noise’ from at-home spectators in real-time, during live games played in fan-free stadiums and venues.

Commenting on the partnership, Jagdish Mitra, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Growth, Tech Mahindra, said, “We have been specifically focused on technologies that will enable experiences in the during-COVID and post-COVID world. Sports with a live fan experience is something that we will miss now for a while. Tech Mahindra’s sports vertical, by leveraging 5G technology, will enhance the fan experience globally. This strategic partnership with ChampTrax Technologies will give us an opportunity to bring the best of both the worlds and help sports fans adjust to the new normal.“

The ‘HearMeCheer’ solution by Champtrax Technologies combines audio through proprietary algorithms that balance each household and enable users to yell loudly and not overpower the audio stream. As the audience watches a game with the web app it automatically sends microphone data that aggregates these sounds to create a single audio stream effect of a unified crowd integrated into real-time broadcasts.

Elias Andersen, Founder of Sports Tech Business, Champtrax Technologies, said, “The partnership gives us a huge opportunity to serve their existing and potential customer at such critical times. ‘HearMeCheer’ is great solution for close door games and we are keen to take it to market with Tech Mahindra.”

As part of the TechMNxt charter, Tech Mahindra is committed towards creating a partner ecosystem to deliver enhanced cutting-edge next-generation technologies like Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, 5G, and Internet of Things, to disrupt and enable digital transformation, to build cutting-edge technology solutions and services for customers globally.

‘The Time For Sustainability Has Come’

We have always been encouraged to do the right thing, so when conversation on sustainability became important it was just the right thing to do. The question before us was how to encourage colleagues to understand that sustainability will help them do better business. Fortunately, the projects that were taken up were not only important for the business, but also crucial from the planet’s perspective. However, there is still a long way to go and much more needs to be done.

The Circular economy will be key for the economic development of India, especially in light of the fact that the world faces resource constraints. Mining for virgin materials is not great for the planet and we are reaching a stage where we will have an abundance of resources, without mining for them. A Circular economy can be very useful for the country and the industries, and the question of reverse logistics can be handled by engaging the informal economy, which is already part of the ecosystem, and help them do their job better.

Also important is reducing and recycling waste. Within the Mahindra Group, 15 locations have been certified as Zero Waste to Landfill (ZWL) and this achievement is only possible because of the relentless efforts of the employees in the manufacturing locations who figured out ways to achieve this commendable feat. There are parts of India that are doing it at scale.

Several solutions are available today which can help us make our lifestyles less carbon intensive and it is imperative that we adopt them to save the planet. If we want to pursue Alternativism then we must adopt solutions that are available today.

The Mahindra Group has a number of investments in ‘green businesses’. Apart from electric mobility, the group has invested in converting waste including food waste into clean energy, green buildings, micro irrigation, solar energy, recycling old automobiles in a responsible manner, etc. Our green businesses revenues have witnessed a steady increase and we are hopeful that they will be bigger than what they are today.

The Mahindra Group was the first Indian company to join the EP100 campaign. The campaign, led by The Climate Group, aims to work with businesses to double energy productivity and maximize economic output.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a major interruption and it will take us time to get back. However, it will fail to dampen the demand for green business. The growth rate of the green businesses might slow, but it will continue on its upward trajectory.

We conducted a survey in five metros of the country to ascertain the awareness about climate change and we found that awareness was high and there was a readiness to adopt green solutions. It bolstered our belief that planet action will succeed.

The Group’s ‘Be a sustainability person’ stems from that. More than 25,000 employees have been encouraged to adopt energy efficient lighting. Other initiatives such as reducing electricity consumption have not only created awareness but thousands of our employees have proactively reduced their energy consumption.

The sustainability efforts have also encouraged our dealers to move towards green certification of their showrooms. We have also incorporated sustainability efforts into our dealer evaluation programme. A similar approach has been adopted for our suppliers as well and they have been encouraged to reduce waste, increase energy efficiency, biodiversity, etc. The Group is a strong votary of knowledge transfer by which vendors and suppliers are encouraged to engage with us, adopt best practices and implement them at their plants and work sites.

The Future of Corporate Social Responsibility

The dramatic spread of COVID-19 disrupted lives, livelihoods, communities and businesses worldwide. It showcased to us how, today, truly we are a connected society. India’s response to COVID-19 was swift, with the country going into lockdown in the third week of March, with a relatively low number of COVID positive cases. The lockdown meant a near-complete restriction on the movement of people, the closure of all establishments except those providing “essential services”, and the regular “sealing” of neighbourhoods and areas that are suspected to be COVID-19 hotspots. Several corporates immediately responded to the crisis by shifting their factories to produce what was needed by the frontline Corona warriors, especially the healthcare workers. Corporate CSR teams mobilized resources to provide much-needed food ration and emergency income support for daily wage earners who had lost their livelihood as a result of businesses having to close. This was our first line of defence, our attempt to bring relief to those impacted by the pandemic. This is an unprecedented crisis and while corporates and civil society responded in the best way possible, it still wasn’t enough.

The COVID-19 outbreak affects all segments of the population, but the health and economic impacts of the pandemic are being borne disproportionately by the poorest. A case in point is that of the migrant labourers, wherein we are witnesses to heart-breaking images of pregnant women, elderly men & women carrying their children on their shoulders and backs as they walk on foot to reach their villages, never mind that their homes are hundreds of kilometres away. This is a better alternative to being confined in a small shanty with shared unhygienic toilets, increasing their risk of being exposed to the virus.

This pandemic has magnified inequalities and is no longer restricted to just a health crisis as it morphs into a social crisis. Amongst the most vulnerable are women and children. Quarantine measures imposed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a heightened risk of violence for them in their own homes, as they are cut off from essential protection services and social networks. The economic burdens faced by families due to the outbreak can put girls at greater risk of exploitation, child labour and gender-based violence. Global lockdowns imply lock downs on girls’ autonomy, reinforcing the discriminatory attitudes and practices that regard girls as second-class citizens and hold them back.

Read the full article here.


  Tweet of the Week

Anand Mahindra

Pleased that a Mahindra collaboration, Nightingales, has developed a Workplace Health Safety program especially for corporates as their teams start returning to work…

Read the Tweet

Share news, views and feedback with [email protected]