Tremendous evolution and transformation in the automobile industry – Times of India

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Vaibhav Sharma is Founder & CEO of CarzSo
The automobile industry is shifting gears. Fuelled by technological advances, changing consumer behaviour and global pandemic disruptions, the industry is racing towards a new world. As the pandemic swept over the world, the industry temporarily came to a screeching halt. However, digitalization in the automobile sector is once again accelerating its growth journey. Infact supply chain and operational disruptions across the world have compelled automotive leaders to leverage technology and innovation. 
 With electric vehicles becoming a common sight, virtual showrooms springing over the internet, irresistible financing options and pre owned cars booming, the automobile industry has found new ways to lure customers in. Driven by sustainability and a growing appetite for digital experience, consumers are demanding a change in the automobile industry. As a result, manufacturers and suppliers are integrating technology into all aspects of their operations, from product design to production to sales and marketing. 
 The emergence of virtual showrooms in the new normal
As the world was thrust into a lockdown, physical showrooms witnessed a steep decline in customer visits. With customers unable to visit showrooms, virtual showrooms decided to pay a visit to their customers. Digital retail is taking the automobile industry by storm as more and more consumers are preferring to buy everything online, even cars. Unburdened by infrastructural and overhead costs, these virtual showrooms are able to offer extremely competitive prices and lucrative deals. Thanks to virtual showrooms, customers can browse cars on their mobile phones, book virtual car tours and even get the car delivered to their doorstep, with easy and secured payment channels.  
 Pre-owned cars > New cars
According to recent stats – India’s pre-owned car market is forecasted to record sales of up to 8.3 million units by 2026. Driven by the need for personal mobility, affordability and reduced period of car ownership, customers are preferring used cars over new ones. The preowned car market is estimated to double its sales over the next five years which clearly states that two used cars will be sold for every new car sold. The majority of the customers are gravitating towards the preowned car market due to the pandemic-induced liquidity concerns. Furthermore, new-age startups and autotech platforms are deploying the latest technologies and innovations like digital buying experience, doorstep delivery, extended warranties, and easy financing options to attract droves of customers.
 Electrification of the vehicles
Driven by sustainability, decarbonization and net zero-emission targets, automotive manufacturers across the globe are venturing into electric vehicles. According to projections, India’s electric vehicle market is expected to grow to ₹50,000 crores by 2025, accelerated by two and three-vehicle electrification. Moreover, given the rising fuel prices and pollution, customers are also demanding electric vehicles. As a result, several automakers are making heavy investments in the electrification of vehicles. In the coming years, the preowned car market for electric and hybrid cars is also expected to see a steep surge. Keen to reduce tailpipe emissions and pollution, even the government is incentivizing and encouraging the production of electric vehicles.
 Elevating the car buying experience
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the car buying experience forever. With online marketplaces springing up all over the internet, virtual test drives are tempting customers to feel the immersive experience and getting cars home delivered. As a result, the pandemic has compelled the automobile industry to up its game. Giving users a taste of the virtual experience, online dealerships are offering lucrative deals, post-purchase services and warranties to get the customers to seal the deal. Car buying has become a wholesome and convenient experience compared to the old times of visiting physical showrooms, test driving, striking a bargain and compromising in the end. Now, customers are in the driver’s seat and car retailers are doing everything to elevate their buying experience.
 Pushing the boundaries of personalization
Talking about the customer being in the driver’s seat, the automobile industry is revolving around the customers to personalize their car buying experience. Online car marketplaces are indulging customers in personal retail therapies by offering them extensive variety, on-demand features, easy financing options and customizations. This personalization allows automakers to improve vehicle convenience, comfort, performance and safety as per the future owner’s command. As a result, not only is the customer experience enhancing, but businesses are benefiting from innovative business models and recurring revenue streams.
 Wrapping Up
In response to the global pandemic, shifting customer demands and technological disruptions, the automobile industry is innovating with its business models and developing unique solutions. With customer centricity at the helm of their operations, automakers are doing all they can to elevate the customer experience by offering virtual showroom experience, sustainable electric and hybrid vehicles, affordable pre owned cars and lucrative deals. In a digital-first world, the automobile industry can forge new paths to success by stepping up its transformation efforts and addressing the needs of customers and changing times.
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Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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