Car and Bike Sales Move Online As Some Production Begins
Car and bike makers will start making vehicles with a limited number of staff to adhere to govt guidelines.
With lockdown restrictions easing up across states in India, car and bike makers have begun or are planning to begin limited production, keeping in mind the government's guidelines on social distancing and minimal workforce requirements.
The trouble though is getting people to buy their products as footfall at showrooms is expected to be limited given the social distancing norms in place and the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of going away anytime soon.
Most brands are now looking to take their sales online, offering customers the option to book test drives online, and if a showroom visit is necessary, to book a slot in advance for a specific time.
At the factories, multiple safety measures are being implemented, with the limited staff available. Production numbers will be lower than before, but many also have a fair amount of inventory to clear as well.
Here's a look at what most of the car and bike makers in the country are doing.
Maruti Suzuki has rolled out a new standard operating procedure at its showrooms to maintain hygiene as much as possible.
Customers can login to the Arena or Nexa websites and personalise their choice of car online. They can also submit all the documents digitally. If they want a test drive of a particular car, the car will be sanitised and brought to the customer. All staff have been instructed to wear masks and carry sanitisers at all times. If a customer wants, the car will be door delivered at home.
The company claims that the health of all employees is being monitored by a wellness app. Only those who have been in good health for 14 consecutive days will be allowed to resume work. Maruti says the app works in conjunction with the government’s Aarogya Setu app.
Maruti has 3,086 showrooms in 1,964 towns and cities in India, which will open in a phased manner depending on local permissions. Production at its plant in Manesar begins on 12 May with limited staff.
Mahindra, India's largest SUV maker, has also decided to move its buying experience online. It has come up with a portal solution it calls Own-Online, where customers can personalise their vehicles, choose financing options, and book a car.
The company wants minimal contact at its dealerships. Test drive cars and new cars for delivery will be sanitised. Human interaction will be kept to the minimum required. It has 270 dealers and 900 touchpoints with customers in the country (which includes service facilities and smaller outlets).
Hyundai has restarted production at its plant in Sriperumbudur near Chennai with over 200 cars rolling off the line on the first day. The company is expected to bounce back soon because it already has 20,000 bookings of the all-new Hyundai Creta.
The company is also offering customers an EMI assurance scheme, where it will cover three EMIs if a customer can't pay during the loan tenure. It is minimising contact with its customers by resorting to website bookings and telephonic interactions. At showrooms, thermal screening and regular sanitisation, along with adequate social distancing and masks are standard fare.
At its showrooms, Ford is enforcing social distancing whether it's for customer interactions or even service. Customers can "Dial-a-Ford" to book a test drive at their doorsteps. Even new vehicles can be delivered at the door.
Existing customers can use the "Dial-a-Ford" number 1800-419-3000 to arrange for pick up and drop services for routine service of their cars. All payments will be digital.
Mercedes restarted production on 6 May at its plant in Pune with limited staff. It has also started sales through its MercFromHome venture, which is basically an online portal through which customers can order and pay for their cars.
Also, on its website shop.mercedes.co.in, the company is also selling used Mercedes Benz cars, which it thinks will kick start the market for luxury cars again. The website now has been expanded to include new cars
Royal Enfield is opening production in a staggered manner at its plant in Oragadam, near Chennai with minimum staff in a single shift. Employees residing in and around plant locations will be aligned to work in these units so as to avoid long-distance travel and minimise contact during transportation. All its corporate staff will continue to work from home.
While the majority of Royal Enfield dealer network will continue to remain closed, around 120 dealerships have begun partial operations. The company will offer facilities like home test-rides and is extending warranty and service validity.
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