During the third edition of OLX Auto Talk 3.0, industry experts like Prof Satya Chakravarthy, Co-founder from ePlane Company, Gaurav Gupta, COO from MG Motor India, Kunal Khattar, Managing Partner from AdvantEdge, Amit Kumar, CEO from OLX Autos India along with Roshun Povaiah – Editor, Financial Express Digital discussed how the consumer automotive experience is changing due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and what it means for the future of the consumer mobility industry. In a panel moderated by Financial Express Online, the experts from MG Motor, OLX, Eplane & AdvantEdge unequivocally opined that the pandemic has been certainly a watershed moment for the Indian automotive industry. Moreover, the second wave, in particular, will lead to a delay in consumer demand for cars and mobility solutions, thereby leading to a repressed demand for the same in the coming months.
Moreover, during the OLX Auto Talk 3.0, the experts chimed in that the current pandemic will accelerate the digitization of the automotive industry faster than ever before in order for the industry to cater to the new age consumer demands. The experts also feel that the industry is well prepared for the second wave and technology such as hybrid dealerships, integrated online consumer experiences, new forms of personal consumer mobility options and artificial intelligence will be a must for the industry to safeguard itself from any further impact of the pandemic in the coming months.
With the ongoing situation, OEMs and dealerships have specifically adopted digital technologies faster in the last one year than in the last five years, the panel believes. MG Motor says that this has led to consumer purchase cycles declining and has paved the way for seamless adoption of automotive experiences as per MG Motor. In the smaller cities, the adoption of pre-owned cars has skyrocketed in the last one year as per OLX with demand increasing by 130 percent. Similarly, AdvtangeFund noticed that the adoption of low ticket mobility solutions such as buses or transport options for last-mile connectivity saw an almost double rise post the lockdown by a majority of the population.
This can also be attributed to the fact that the segment saw reverse migration by blue-collar workers from their villages to the cities. In terms of electric vehicles, MG Motor is quite confident that EVs in the coming five years will start featuring more into the consideration set by consumers given the rise in awareness about the environmental impact of ICE vehicles. Thanks to this thought process, MG Motor expects a 2x rise in EV sales by March 2022 but at the same time, also cautions that the demand will scale in the EV sector if all stakeholders come together and collaborate on the common direction.
Sharing their thoughts on the new trends emerging in the industry amidst the second wave, the experts said:
Prof Satya Chakravarthy, Co-founder Eplane Company, said, “While there exists a massive opportunity for flying and autonomous vehicles, the ecosystem must view it as the next stage of evolution for consumer mobility. Engineering challenges with EV’s especially with heavy-duty commercial vehicles, limited support available now and India’s overcrowded roads clearly demonstrate that the future of mobility must be hybrid(aerial and on road). This will not only ease the burden on the mobility industry but gradually over a period of time will also help the overall sector to accelerate innovation in alternative means of personal mobility given the heightened concerns around hygiene now.”
Amit Kumar, CEO, OLX Autos India, said, “It is inevitable that technology will play a major role in helping the new and pre-owned car industry tide over the crisis of the second wave. Technology that can help consumers buy or sell their cars from the comfort of their homes will not only assist the used car ecosystem to maintain a slow growth momentum during the pandemic but also help draw users from new areas especially the non-metros who are evaluating purchasing a used car for their mobility needs.”
Gaurav Gupta, COO, MG Motor, said, “MG Motor has been strategically focusing on cutting new-age initiatives to help define and shape the Indian mobility industry. Our innovation pillars are focused on the future of mobility which has allowed us to partner with institutes, companies & relevant stakeholders in the ecosystem to create consumer first products by leveraging AI, VR & AR to allow our consumers to seamlessly complete their car buying journeys in the absence of limited footfalls across our dealerships. We have multiple initiatives under our Umbrella MG Shield Plus. This covers – MG VPHY: contactless demo of the car and an interactive platform between our sales team and customers. Our My MG App allows customers to be able to conduct video calls with cars in service centres and even make financial transactions. Further our digital car configurator (since June 2019) is being leveraged even more now and consumers have a seamless journey from search to drive off.”
Kunal Khattar, AdvantEdge Founders Managing Partner, said, “As a country, a large part of the population cannot afford personal mobility options hence consumer mobility for these users are being catered to by new-age startups and companies. Wide Scale passenger mobility especially in the first mile or last mile situations will need tech enabled startups to do so at scale which OEM’s may not be able to cater to. In the last 1 year, our portfolio of startups catering to the segment has seen a massive uptick of up to 5x vs pre-COVID levels. It is only a matter of time that we gradually emerge from the pandemic given the fact that the Indian automotive industry is extremely resilient and has learned its lesson well from the first wave of COVID-led disruption. The automotive sector and consumer mobility industry are geared to address the mobility needs of the population as the economy gradually opens up. This will be done with technology as a key enabler not just for urban mobility but also rural and semi-urban mobility.”
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