Online car-buying: The showroom reached the living room in 2020

The year saw a three-fold increase in digital vehicle exploration trends: Eccentric Engine.

By:Updated: Mar 29, 2021 8:40 AM

 

As many as 76 lakh Indians chose to experience the features of their next car in 3D on the internet in 2020. This is more than a 300% growth in exploration than 2019, a trend analysis by Eccentric Engine, the firm behind the data and vehicle visualisation platform One 3D, has revealed. One 3D provides customers with an immersive digital experience of a car and its features, sitting remotely (home, office, anywhere). Customers can experience in 3D a car’s exteriors and interiors, try out different colour schemes, and explore different trims available.

The trend analysis by Eccentric Engine—with data collected from select OEMs from a sample of 10 crore interactions and over 5,000 respondents across tier-1, tier-2 and tier-3 cities—shows that as many as 91% of customers who purchased a car at a dealership after exploring it online chose the same model at the dealership as the one they had explored online. “This holds invaluable marketing and product insights for auto manufacturers,” Eccentric Engine said.

“By intuitively integrating the real and digital worlds with One 3D, we have created an unprecedented level of customer engagement for our OEM partners to understand evolving consumer needs, and help them serve their customers better by offering world-class product visualisation that can personalise their buying experience,” said Varun Shah, co-founder, Eccentric Engine.

In the trend survey, while 51% of sessions are from six tier-1 cities (New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai), a surprise player that broke into the top-10 cities was Lucknow, which had 3% of digital sessions. The trend seems to be spreading to tier-2 and tier-3 cities, with tier-3 cities accounting for 9% of total sessions during 2018-20. Cities like Secunderabad, Udaipur and Imphal led the uptrend in 2020.

The survey found that while in 70% of sessions Indians explored their next car on mobile phones, 25% did so on desktops. Most of the Indian users researched online between 12:00 noon and 4:00 pm, with Wednesday being the most preferred day. Perked up by the festive season, such exploration saw a jump during November-December. It was also noted that non-resident Indians (NRIs) are making buying decisions for their families by exploring Indian cars digitally for their families in India. In 2020, of the total 4.6% NRI sessions, 31% of sessions originated from North America which explored cars virtually on One 3D, followed by the Middle East (32%), Europe (10%), the UK (5%), Australia ( 4%), Africa ( 2%) and Latin America (1%).

The data showed that blue and white were top shades of new cars explored by over 40% Indians, and 35% preferred grey, brown and silver; red, black and orange were preferred by 15%. In CY2020, total car sales in India were close to 24 lakh units, down from about 29 lakh in 2019. But with innovations in online promotion, virtual car exploration and doorstep deliveries, it is hoped that 2021 (with nearly 50 launches planned) will fare much better for the auto industry.

Eccentric Engine has been working with several OEMs, including Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, MG Motor, Citroen, and Renault Nissan. In 2020, most OEMs also started their own online sales platforms, including Hyundai (Click to Buy), Kia (VR Showroom), Honda (Honda from Home), Mahindra (Own-Online), Mercedes-Benz (Merc from Home), among others.

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