29 April 2020

Shalini Baveja Head of Strategy, Marketing and Corporate Communications LeasePlan India

One of the worst pandemics, COVID-19 has had us thinking, what’s next? What would our professional and personal lives look like post the lockdown. How will the back-to-office protocol work? Will we be able to move around, shop, play and study the way we used to? It also brings us back to the question on which our business hinges- Cars! What would the automotive world look like? How will I buy my next car, will I be able to test drive it, how will I travel and move about and many such questions. Here is a run-down on what we think is the near, if not the immediate future for automobiles and travellers.

My Personal Space

Stepping out to work, for most of us who have been working from home, will possibly create mixed feelings. Joy of being able to go back to office, your familiar work surroundings, your desk, the smell of coffee (or tea) but it is likely to be coupled with the feeling of insecurity… to keep yourself safe from the virus.

Even before you reach office, what will be your mode of transport? Cabs, Office Shuttle, Metro? In case you have a car to yourself, then you are saved that bit of anxiety.

Employee Transportation

Many IT/ITES companies and other sectors, working in staggered work shifts and who provide pick-and-drop facility to employees, will need to set up tight protocols of keeping their employees safe, providing them enough social distancing within the vehicle, along with clean and disinfected interiors. Which will mean, fewer people per car and strict sanitisation SOP in place.

Subscriptions & Leasing

Shared mobility may take a hit and give way to mobility subscriptions and leasing. Ride hailing companies may need to rethink their business models which would uphold the ‘new’ basic needs of the travelers – having their own personal space within the confines of the vehicle.

Used Car Market

The Indian used car market has, in the recent years, been becoming more organised with tech and hybrid players adding more glamour to pre-owned cars. Good growth can be expected from the ‘first-time car buyer’ segment who are now possibly thinking about catalysing their decision to graduate from public transport to owning or leasing pre-owned vehicles.

Online car shopping – 3D car reviews, more visual functionalities

Visiting dealerships for car evaluation may take some time to get back on track again. In the meantime, the need for personal vehicles will jumpstart online shopping for cars. Digitisation, 3D visualisation of exteriors and interiors of the vehicle and online purchase may take over some of the salespersons’ responsibility.

Finally, the joy of driving home a car from the dealership is likely to change, with your set of wheels being delivered at your doorstep, disinfected and wrapped for your safe take-over and use.

Car servicing

A high-touch activity, car servicing and maintenance may push people to look for options of doorstep servicing, D-I-Y maintenance advice or go for low maintenance cars altogether. This in turn will also lead to service centres introducing new value-added services such as Car Disinfecting Service or providing Disinfectant Kits for your vehicles.

And, finally adding the ‘Electric’ in our mobility!

The push for ‘electric’ is likely to become much stronger. Electric cars are nearly zero maintenance with much lower cost of ownership than their ICE counterparts. This coupled with telematics, AI and Over the Air (OTA) technology will make cars more connected and smarter with self-upgrading features.

Automotive sector has been at the forefront of technology development and has created marvels out of cars. With the COVID challenge still in hand, we feel it is going to be technology again which will bring safer havens to our mobility as well.