We are perhaps living in one of the most exciting times. Most of us, especially the GenX, has seen how cars and mobility have evolved. From the heavy-set, dignified Ambassador to a sleeker Premier Padmini, leading to the compact Maruti 800 in the 1980s and early 90s, our automotive industry has come a long way. Maruti 800 revolutionised the automotive industry at that time and remained a best-seller for over a decade.
Another revolution began post liberalisation when multinational automakers started investing in India. In a matter of another decade we were ‘spoilt for choice’ when it came to car buying decisions. Rising income levels and increasing affordability further led to a boom in the Indian automotive industry. Over the years, our automotive landscape evolved, boosted our economy and positioned India as a country of strategic importance on global automakers’ agenda. Today, India is the fifth largest car market in the world!
Another phenomenon which was pervading all through these years was ‘My car, my pride!’ An Indian car buyer would create an asset for keeps. One of the major disruptors which started shifting the ‘ownership’ mindset to that of ‘usage’ is still a young but fast-catching phenomenon. Arrival of ride-hailing companies – Uber and Ola have moved the discussion from cars to mobility. The millennials took to the new concept as fish does to water. Soon we found our moms and dads finding themselves hailing a ride, saving themselves the hassle of driving through rush and dealing with parking woes!
On the corporate side, companies have already had the ‘usage’ model working for them in the form of vehicle leasing and fleet management solutions. This is based on outsourcing of mobility management which offers them the advantages of cost-savings, administrative ease, employee productivity and better mind-share to focus on core business activities.
Connected, shared and convenient mobility is gearing itself to also become clean and green. With the discussion on electric mobility picking up, it might be time for us, as industry stakeholders to extend our thoughts and see how we can apply the ‘e’ faster to our areas of work and sphere of mobility.
Interestingly, India had its very first electric car way back in early 2000’s in the form of a micro car, made by the Indian manufacturer REVA Electric Car Company, which we now know of as the Mahindra e2OPlus.
Also, interesting to note is that LeasePlan leased its first REVA in India in 2004!
With a limited choice of electric car models, we seem to have gone back to the ‘Ambassador-like’ era. However, even with the limited playing blocks, we have the ‘first-movers’ of the industry who have built their businesses around electromobility. Some of the employee transportation, ride-sharing and ride-hailing companies have taken a leap of faith and are offering convenient, cost-effective and clean options to commuters. Some of these companies have also taken the leasing route for acquisition and management of their electric fleets. Over the last couple of years, they have created self-sufficient operating models and in the process, grabbed a good part of the willing market. And a big bow to all the private car owners who decided to go electric in the face of prevailing ‘adverse’ sentiments of vehicle range, safety and other myths that take birth before acceptance and belief take over!
With a slew of new electric cars coming to India in the next 12 to 18 months and government’s recent policy to ease set-up of charging infrastructure, the stage is set for what’s next!