For Avneesh Kumar (name changed), life will not be the same again. Since the time the company announced its intent to stop manufacturing cars in India, the young sales executive employed with the Rudraa Ford dealership in Mumbai's distant Mira Road suburb has been losing sleep about the road ahead.
“It’s a scary situation to envisage life without a job,” he says. His 20-odd colleagues at the showroom are as worried even while attending to harried customers who are barking at them on the phone or in person seeking to know more about the fate of their new cars and after-sales service.
“There has been a deluge of calls from customers since the news broke out,” says the receptionist at Rudraa even while a senior staffer chips in to optimistically add that the “situation is normal”. His reasoning is that only the plants are being shut down and the company will continue to import cars.
Clearly, this positivity is not rubbing off on customers with Kumar divulging that nearly nine out of 10 bookings at Rudraa have been cancelled. Only those buyers keen on keeping their vehicles with them for 10-12 years are going ahead with their purchases.
Faced with the challenges of excess stocks , Rudraa is offering generous discounts of up to Rs 80,000 on new cars and Rs 1.8-2 lakh on test vehicles. “It’s just a matter of days or a few weeks before the stocks are sold out,” adds Kumar.
The irony is that dealerships like Rudraa were just beginning to see an uptick in business post-unlocking. It had begun clocking average monthly sales of 35 plus units, which was not too far away from the 50 units recorded during pre-Covid times.
Quite unlike the overhang of anxiety at Rudraa, the atmosphere at Satyam Ford located along the busy Ghodbunder Road in Thane near Mumbai seems more optimistic with a couple of families keen to check out some models. Satyam has outlets in Kalyan and Dombivali (Thane district) and the combined sales was over 150 units each month before Covid-19 derailed the story.
Anupam Nath (name changed), a senior sales executive, says there is no reason to be worried. “Ford is not exiting but instead upgrading,” he says, given that premium products such as the Mustang will soon be available at the outlet.
Nath has been associated with the American brand for nearly 11 years and reiterates that the association will continue in the future too. His team manager Suresh Pujari (name changed) points out that Ford has not been able to meet its targeted sales numbers and is therefore opting for imports of premium models. From Satyam’s point of view, the show will go on even while uncertainty looms large at Rudraa.