The aftermath of the lockdown has been cruel for one industry, the automotive industry.
Ever since the lockdown was announced in India back in March, a stressful future was visible for the auto industry. Not only was the auto industry already on the decline, the recent (and needed) shift to BS6 had fiercely affected their sales. Dealers across the nation were looking for schemes and discounts to sell their BS4 stock before the deadline.
Although, it was brought to a dead end since the supreme court gave almost no ease to the dealers during the lockdown. I am still not able to grab the concept of a deadline that lies within the lockdown period. How were they supposed to sell cars when even some grocery stores were shut down?
Now though, the government after their 2nd lockdown has eased certain rules in orange and green zones which allowed many non essential businesses to open up. This also included car dealerships and most companies have already opened up a few of their dealerships and plants as of right now. Tata Motors has also joined that league. Below are the details from a press release.
Calibrated restart of manufacturing operations for both Commercial and Passenger Vehicles
The company says that a calibrated restart of manufacturing operations for both Commercial and Passenger Vehicles from its plants located at Pantnagar (Uttarakhand) beginning last week and from Sanand (Gujarat). Tata Motors plants in Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), Dharwad (Karnataka), Jamshedpur (Jharkhand) and Pune (only for Ambulance Vehicle manufacturing) are in final stage of readiness and expect to begin production over the next few days. This commencement of operations follows receipt of all necessary approvals from relevant Government authorities.
Nearly 200 dealerships and 300 workshops for passenger vehicles and over 400 sales outlets and 885 workshops for commercial vehicles have begun operations with a new set of standard operating procedure (SOPs) defining minimal interactions and maintaining prudent social distance while engaging with customers. Over the last few days, customers have initiated new bookings, deliveries of passenger vehicles have commenced and workshops are seeing increasing inflow of vehicles for servicing.
Every employee re-joining the workplace is required to download and use the mandatory ‘Aarogya Setu’ app. Employees are also required to periodically check-in and declare the status of their own, as well as their family’s health on the Tata Motors in-house health track portal. In addition, all employees and visitors entering and exiting the plant premises are also being screened for temperature checks.
Customer safety (Passenger cars)
All discussions with customers are being done virtually using digital tools and any meetings, if necessary, are being conducted with prior appointments and post verification of all requirements. Documents for vehicle insurance and registration are being collected via mail or specially installed drop boxes and vehicle deliveries are being done only after all formalities are completed. Customer vehicles arriving at workshops for repairs and servicing too are completely sanitised before being handed over post service.
Test drives are being offered on request and with prior appointment at customer’s preferred location. Only one person drives the vehicle with a dealer staff member sitting in the rear seat to avoid any physical contact. Following every test drive, the vehicle is fully sanitised including replacing protective covers shielding the interiors of the vehicle that come in contact while driving.
To enhance peace of mind for its discerning passenger vehicle customers, Tata Motors has recently launched ‘Click to drive’, an end-to-end online platform to select and buy cars. From the comfort of their homes, customers can log in, select the vehicle of their choice, avail a test drive and choose from variety of financing options to book their preferred car and SUV. This platform is integrated with all dealers who arrange for the delivery of the vehicle nationwide.
Customer safety for Commercial vehicles
For its commercial vehicle customers, Tata Motors extended all possible technical support to keep vehicles running during the lockdown. Additionally, timelines of vehicle warranty, free services and Tata Suraksha AMC have also been extended.
To support local communities, Tata Motors is actively providing essentials to sections of society most impacted during the lockdown. Supplies of food, masks and sanitisers along with information kits on precautions to be taken for health and hygiene, have been arranged for thousands of frontline hero truck drivers, transporting goods and services in multiple locations across the country. Further, via several channels, the company is also providing educational material in regional languages to raise awareness amongst the lowest strata of the society regarding precautions to be taken to combat COVID-19.
A new beginning
Tata Motors has used the lockdown time to design new ways of working, respecting the mandatory safety norms and aggressively adopting digital. Via rigorous sessions conducted virtually, employees, dealers and supplier partners were oriented to this and trained on the feature-rich BSVI offerings for effectively selling and engaging with customers.
A word from the CEO
“Our utmost priority is the safety and wellbeing of our employees, customers and ecosystem partners. Therefore, we restart operations with limited, essential staff in each plant, adhering to all mandated safety norms while efficiently meeting operational requirements. The support and cooperation extended by local authorities, state and central Government, our Union partners and our dedicated workforce have been instrumental for a smooth restart. We will scale operations in a graded manner as the entire enabling ecosystem of suppliers, vendors, dealers and customers comes up to speed. We are cautiously optimistic and staying agile to cater to an evolving demand. The lockdown was our opportunity to accelerate our digital journey and evolve new ways of working, while servicing and supporting our customers. We are well positioned to redefine mobility with our new product portfolio, customised offerings and enhanced customer experience.”