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The Post-Pandemic Evolution of the Indian Automobile Industry

The automobile sector is one of India's most important economic drivers, with a high level of engagement in global value chains. Strong government backing has aided this sector's expansion, allowing it to carve out a distinct route among India's industrial sectors. The country's vehicles are distinctive in which they cater to the needs of low- and middle-income sectors of the population, making it stand out among other automobile producing countries. The industry is a vital part of the Indian economy, accounting for a large portion of GDP. India became the world's fourth largest automobile market in 2017, but the sector has experienced several hurdles recently, including the terrible COVID-19 pandemic.

Production at original equipment manufacturers (OEM) was halted as a result of the pandemic-induced shutdown. It also caused a disturbance in the whole value chain of India's key industries, affecting the production of vehicle replacement parts. Furthermore, lower customer demand for passenger vehicles resulted in revenue losses and decreased vehicle manufacturing.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the Indian automotive industry seems to be overcoming most of it and have found the road to recovery as its growth potential is clear. Let's take a closer look at the new concepts, ideas and the themes that the industry players have adopted in response to the prevailing need.

Focusing the resale market:

While the first-time purchasers controlled the Indian automobile industry for a long time, the focus is now turning to repeat consumers. The resale market is becoming even more crucial as the government intends to implement a new scrappage strategy. Car manufacturers are now devising new tactics to enable the resale of current vehicles across categories as they wish to focus on recurring customers. Some start-ups have already tried to make the process of purchasing and selling second-hand cars, easier and more efficient. Automobile manufacturers might significantly boost urban demand if they create the resale market ahead of time.

Changing preferences of people:

Consumer habits and behaviour have shifted dramatically as a result of the pandemic. Nowadays, individuals emphasize social distancing and personal hygiene, thus there is likely to be a move away from shared mobility choices. This effectively translates into a larger demand for inexpensive personal transportation, perhaps boosting auto sales, particularly in the entry-level vehicle sector. When the lockdown eased in China, a similar trend emerged, with automobile ownership outnumbering car-hailing and sharing. India is projected to go a similar route, which might help the automobile industry reverse its downward trend in sales.

Introducing cutting-edge features:

Several customers are seeking for enhanced health, hygiene, and sanitation features in their cars as they adjust to the post-COVID-19 environment. Certain features, such as built-in sanitization, improved air-purification systems, and antimicrobial surfaces, may witness a surge in demand. Customers are more likely to choose vehicles with such features, and they may even be willing to pay extra for their own physical and emotional well-being. Companies are implementing such innovations while remaining cost-effective in order to gain a competitive advantage in terms of sales and to provide customers with valuable features.

Making the switch to digital:

a growing demand for contact-free online transactions has emerged as a prominent trend that is projected to spill over into vehicle purchases. In after-sales, there had already been a trend toward online models, with growth in online appointment scheduling, doorstep pickup/delivery, and online payments. Several car companies have identified this trend and implemented a procedure that takes customers from early inquiries and feature customization to booking, financing, and delivery in a totally contactless process. Even test drives are now available from the customer's home, obviating the need to go to a showroom. Companies now focus on delivering superior customer experience by ensuring a frictionless path to purchase in an online world to benefit from this trend.

Nevertheless, the lifting of lockdowns gives reason to believe that the automobile industry will soon resume its upward trajectory. This post-pandemic period is a testing time for the industry, and its recovery will be determined by how successfully manufacturers and retailers respond to obstacles and adapt to changing patterns in the post-COVID-19 environment. The automotive sector has been one of India's great success stories, and its resurgence is a fair indicator of how the economy may emerge from its months-long slumber. The industry will benefit from the new enhancements, modernised ideas, themes, and concepts.