New Delhi, Delhi, India, 4th October 2019: Industry experts opine that a positive change is expected in consumer sentiment as the festive season begins which is expected to bring some respite to the slump in the auto market. As a first of its kind knowledge exchange initiative, OLX Auto Talk brings together prominent auto industry experts from organizations like FADA, IHS Markit and leaders from OLX and OLX Cash My Car.
The first edition of this initiative was graced by Saharsh Damani – CEO of Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA); Vinkesh Gulati – VP, FADA; Suman Saurabh – Manager Automotive Supply Chain & Technology at IHS Markit; Bhaskar Bagchi, GM, OLX Cash My Car and Sunny Kataria, VP Auto, OLX India. The panel discussed a range of macro economic affairs impacting the automobile industry presently, including the state of the pre-owned and new car market, the role of millennials in shifting trends being witnessed in the auto sector, the state of dealerships, policy impact, the changing behavior of auto purchase and the outlook for the industry in the near term.
Notably, the expert speakers stressed on the role of technology and Internet in driving a shift in consumer behaviour towards car buying in India. With consumers now relying on the Internet for information and reviews on a car s/he may wish to purchase, their car buying/selling journeys now begin online and culminate at dealerships. The panel observed that while footfalls may be reducing, consumer inquiries in dealerships have picked up ahead of the festive season signalling an uptick in consumer sentiment and suggesting that respite for auto makers may be round the corner. For pre-owned cars, the demand continues to be steady and on an upward trajectory, driven largely by value smart millennials who are digitally savvy, seek choices, maximize value and are conscious of their impact on the environment.
Saharsh Damani, CEO, FADA, said on a positive note, “While the new regulations around BS VI emissions is expected to impact the demand for new cars in the future, for this festive season in particular we are witnessing a strong bounce back in consumer sentiments that will have a positive impact on the auto sector sales. At a time like this, millennials are undoubtedly crucial to the overall growth. Millennials are increasingly seeking convenience in their car buying journeys which they are able to do so due to the ease of access to information. I think emerging technology trends such as Virtual Reality led car inspection/car showrooms will define the way people buy cars in the future. In terms of the pre-owned car market, we see the industry as complementary to the growth of the new car market.”
Vinkesh Gulati, VP, FADA echoed a similar positivity returning to the sector. He said, “Of late, inquiries that are being received by auto dealers have grown and we expect the same to translate into good sales. Coming just before the festive season suggests that customer sentiments are high and positive, which is a matter of good cheer! The sales in October will be crucial to the revival of the new car industry. While the urban markets are showing a sign of revival albeit at a slow pace, rural segment continues to show a diminished appetite for automobiles especially for 2 wheelers and commercial vehicles. We are increasingly moving towards a scenario where OEM’s will seek to forge partnerships in order to leverage each other’s strengths and this will become more prominent in times to come. Unlike the new car market, growth in the pre-owned car market place growth remains steady. The formal organisation of the pre-owned car market by online marketplaces has encouraged the requisite trust in the ecosystem.”
Talking about the growing importance of millennials driving demand cars, experts from OLX and IHS, opined on the role of pre-owned marketplaces behind the same.
Suman Saurabh, Manager Automotive Supply Chain & Technology at IHS Markit,said, “Millennials are increasingly opting for digital platforms such as online marketplaces to obtain data and evaluate their options prior to making a purchase. Digital aggregators of used car sales business have not only made the sector more structured and accessible but they are also a mine house of data considering the consumer preference of cars and feature in different price brackets”. Talking about the recent emission norms, he added, “I am glad that the migration to BS VI is being right now rather than later on, as it helps the industry to be competent as per global emission standards. Despite the current slowdown year, there is still great potential for the Indian Automotive industry to grow and OEMs should aim to bring refreshed products in terms of design and features for the now aware Indian consumer.”
Bhaskar Bagchi, GM, OLX Cash My Car, said, “Millennials are increasingly seeking convenience and value for their cars which is driving them towards organised platforms like OLX Cash My Car when it comes to selling their cars, where they get instant value realisation for their cars by spending just an hour at the store. Dealers are increasingly tapping into this base as a large and regular source of inventory for pre-owned cars.”
“For millennials, technology such as voice assistants, smart connectivity features, etc is a key motivation for purchasing a pre-owned car. A pre-owned cars offers them a value option to not compromise on such desires,” said Sunny Kataria, VP Auto, OLX India. “The demand for pre-owned cars continues to rise and is only limited by a constrained supply in the market. With the market touching $25 billion by 2023 there exists a large headroom for the growth for the pre-owned car market. Buying a car still remains an aspiration for millions and the sharing economy has not impacted the demand for pre-owned cars since millennials still want to own cars as a prized asset.”
The panel concluded that, while the industry is facing some challenges, there exists a significant opportunity for the industry to grow on the back of innovation, fueled by technology.