Mumbai: CarWale, India’s leading auto media vehicle has released the country’s largest, most widespread, and deep-rooted survey of potential four-wheeler and two-wheeler customers across the country. The Indian Automotive Consumer Canvass (IACC), supported by CEAT Tyres, IndusInd Bank, and Frost & Sullivan, garnered a total of 202,334 responses over the survey period.
With the objective of understanding vehicle purchase behavior and changing perceptions in the wake of COVID-19 in India, the survey was released through a virtual panel discussion led by stalwarts of the industry. The survey found an upswing in interest in Electric Vehicles (EV) with a willingness to explore new models in ownership and a sharp uptick in interest in online purchases.
Growing Interest in Electric Vehicles
Interest in EVs showed a sharp rise with 35% of the respondents reporting a willingness to go for an EV as their next vehicle. The rising demand is driven by better product options (55%), attractive technologies (39%), and affordability (31%). However, the lack of infrastructure seems to be the major stumbling block in its wider appeal. 50% of the respondents cited lack of charging stations and number of product options as the main reasons for not buying an EV.
Ownership to Usership
The survey revealed the changing mindset of the Indian vehicle buyer as their perception changes from ownership to users. An estimated 18% of the respondents showed interest in buying pre-owned cars or opting for leasing/subscription models. While purchasing new vehicles was still a dominant feature at 83%; the rising interest in alternate buying options shows a propensity to place usage and functionality above owning a new model.
Explaining the need to bring higher transparency in the pre-owned car segment, Mr. Banwari Lal Sharma, CEO of CarWale and BikeWale said, “Trust deficit is one of the biggest threats to the growth of used cars in the country. Everyone from the government to the dealers and companies like CarWale will have to work at it. We are working on contributing vis-à-vis more upfront information.”
Online platforms have emerged as the preferred marketplace as 60% of the people showed a willingness to buy their vehicle digitally. The reasons for the popularity of online mediums were better deals (48%), convenience (45%), trust in vehicle manufacturers (27%), followed by transparent purchase process (26%), and fear of hygiene at dealerships (13%). On the other side, the inability to touch and feel the vehicle was cited as the top reason for not opting for an online purchase (65%), followed by better deals offered at the dealership (29%).
COVID-19 has played a role in influencing buying decisions as an overwhelming 77% of the respondents reported postponing their decision to buy a vehicle due to the outbreak in 2020. But the pandemic notwithstanding, more than half the people surveyed (54%) were keen to buy a vehicle in 2021 as against one-third (34%) of the respondents who had decided not to make any such purchases this year. The interest in buying vehicles during the pandemic can be explained by the necessity of personal mobility. Only 9% of respondents cited a willingness to travel by public transport, indicating an increased impetus on personal mobility.
A majority of respondents still opted for traditional preferences, when it comes to financing options. Nationalized banks (56%) are the most preferred mode of financing new vehicles, followed by private financial institutions (19%), personal savings & liquidity (17%), and exchanges with existing vehicles (8%). It indicates a finance-wise and risk-calculative approach towards vehicle financing.
In terms of body types most preferred by the surveyed consumers, compact SUVs (21%) witnessed a higher demand as compared to bikes (19%). Hatchbacks continue to be favored by 17% of the respondents, while 12% of those surveyed opted for scooters.
Commenting on the survey insights, Banwari Lal Sharma, CEO of CarWale and BikeWale said, “The survey indicates a positive sentiment and reiterates the findings of CarWale’s first survey in April last year, where we predicted that the last quarter of the last financial year will be the demand-driving period. While the impact on the supply chain and OEMs was unexpectedly severe, fortunately, we are now seeing a changing pattern. We have demand on our side and the rest can be taken care of. One of the most heartening aspects of the survey is the revelation of 60% of the respondents willing to go for online purchases. Today Indians are predominantly online savvy, utilizing the internet for more than email or web browsing. So, it’s not surprising when 60% of them show a willingness to buy online. For most first-time car or bike buyers, the process can be quite cumbersome. Hence, companies across the board are putting the effort into making the process digital and hence, more convenient.”
On the necessity of bringing innovation, he further added, “India is one of the toughest markets where it’s difficult to make money. We need improvisations in every aspect in order to adapt the product to the market. We cannot simply transplant international models in the Indian market and expect Indians to buy them. Hence, there is a high need for innovation on all fronts, whether it is online, offline, or at the level of OEMs, dealers, accessories, and component manufacturers, everyone must do a much better job and continue to innovate.”