On September 11, all roads in New Delhi led to Frost & Sullivan’s Intelligent Mobility Summit, held on the agenda of ‘Transformation of mobility in India; new business models and growth opportunities’. Attended by key thinkers and stalwarts from the automotive industry, the conference saw active engagement between audience and panellists who discussed and debated various topics within transformation – a buzz word which is currently showing its literal meaning to the automotive fraternity globally.
From electric mobility to the different innovative concepts of vehicle ownership such as leasing being adopted by Indians, the conference saw discussions aplenty where Autocar Professional was one of the official media partners to the summit.
In one of the panel discussions, Kunal Khattar, managing partner, advantEdge Founders, said, “E-rickshaws have been a missed opportunity for automobile OEMs in India. They came out of nowhere and swarmed the market with over 2 million of them successfully shuttling 75 million passengers in the country every day.”
While that clearly gives an idea of what segments of the market are akin to low-hanging fruits in the electric mobility ecosystem in India, the government, however, has been changing its stand with its recent statements on allowing even conventional powertrain solutions to prevail in the Indian market, and switching to electric vehicles, only gradually, offering a respite, but, at the same time, being seen as a knee-jerk reaction to the market slowdown in the country.
In another panel discussion hosted by Autocar Professional’s Sumantra B Barooah, on the topic of ‘Vehicle lifecycle management – purchase journey, ownership management and second life opportunities’, KK Gandhi, convenor, Centre for Policy Research, said, “Data is going ,to play a very important role in vehicle lifecycle management and that is what we are seeing OEMs offering in different categories of vehicles today.”
“IoT, connected technologies and other data attributes will define ownership trends and purchase experiences of customers in the times to come,” he added.
Avinash Gupte, COO, Leasing, Avis India, said,” Everybody is talking about it but not many are seriously looking at Fleet Management Services at this point in time. The concept of vehicle ownership is to gradually move from TCO to Total Cost of Mobility,” thus determining how people are opening up to the concept of multi-modal transportation system and also to the concept of ride sharing for intra-city travel rather than owning an asset and sticking to its liabilities over the entire course of ownership.
Adding his viewpoint, Raghu Nayak, MD, Porsche Centre, Bangalore, said, “The retail scenario is changing with the dealership business becoming more emotional than transactional. More people today are coming into showrooms having different expectations; they want to connect with like-minded people and share passionate stories.” His thoughts could be clearly related to OEMs’ new approach wherein players like Maruti Suzuki have gone ahead and created a separate ‘premium’ looking Nexa retail showrooms, alongside overhauling their existing outlets to the more vibrant ‘Arena’ format.
Similarly, with Citroen, the upcoming brand from PSA Group which is set to enter India in 2021, the selling approach is bound to be more aesthetic and design, as has been conveyed by the company already.
Satendra Kumar, program manager, Mobility, Frost & Sullivan, concluded the chat by saying that “Ride sharing although being an option with consumers, doesn’t really affect vehicle ownership patterns that significantly. People, for instance, in the luxury segment, are buying cars despite rise of shared mobility and moreover, India has huge headroom to grow its vehicle parc still.”
While owning or not owning a personal vehicle in today’s time is strictly dependent upon someone’s use case, the fact cannot be denied that consumers have a newfound convenience in using tap-and-ride services in metro cities, keeping them away from the hassles of parking, servicing and driving in chock-a-block traffic. The trend could be more pronounced in urban cities, but the leeway for growth still remains in rural and Tier 2 towns in India. Some respite from the ongoing slowdown in the auto market will only tell how deep an impact new mobility services are causing on vehicle ownership. Until then, It’s only hope of a sales revival.