2020 has been a tough year for the world, lives have been lost, industries are suffering, and it has been only 5 months since the new year has begun (suffice to say most new year resolutions have flown out the window). Amongst the industries that are suffering, the Auto Industry has been hurt the most. The Indian Auto Industry specifically has been a world of pain lately, as they saw sales drop drastically in the month of March, and April ended up being the worst, as the sales returned in April were nearly 0.
However, all is not lost, as India’s largest selling automaker, Maruti Suzuki LTD has brought some good news for the industry. They have recently received 5,000 online bookings, and this was possible thanks to the online platform set up by them. Much like Maruti, Hyundai, Mahindra, Morris Garages, Renault, Tata and Volkswagen have also set up their online platforms via which customers can not only book, but also purchase their desired sales.
At the moment, it appears that the lockdown implemented by the Government is being relaxed in a few green zones. Cases of Covid 19 are on the rise, but opening the economy is also crucial at this point, failing which, the recovery phase would be acute and lengthy. Furthermore, without the economy being opened, unemployment would only further speed up, and the last thing the people need is to lose out on their livelihood. It is a difficult choice to make between extending the lockdown and opening the economy, but perhaps starting the economy in a staggered phase could do the trick.
On the basis of the guidelines issued by the Government, low risk zones have been allowed to resume operations, and thanks to this, Maruti has reopened 1,900 workshops and one third of the total dealerships in the country. The prime cities are seeing a surge in cases, because of which, most of the dealerships (about 60%) opened by Maruti is in the rural areas.
Until now, Maruti has managed to dispatch 2,300 units of vehicles to the dealerships, from where they should be delivered to their respective owners. Coronavirus is an incredibly sticky and contagious disease, because of which, all outlets being opened, have to follow a strict protocol to make sure that there is no way of allowing the disease to be contracted within their facilities, or from the customers.
In order to do so, Maruti India has issued a few SOPs (Standard Operation Procedure) to their dealerships, and these procedures ought to be followed conscientiously. On Maruti’s end, tall their demonstration vehicles will be sanitized and disinfected, furthermore, social distancing will be followed by the employees within the showrooms.
Any customer who wishes to enter the showrooms can do so, by making an appointment before hand. This is sensible, as this reduces the number of people present within the premises. Once the customers do enter the dealerships, they would have to go through a mandatory thermal scan to check for their body temperature. If the customer requests for a test drive, they will be allowed to do so, but to maintain hygiene, the customer will be made to sit on a disposable cover, which post every test drive, will be thrown and replaced with a new one. On completing the test drive, the common touchpoints in the car will also be sanitized.
In the domestic market, Maruti Suzuki during Q4 has sold 360,428 vehicles, which is 16% lesser than last year’s sales. Exports to have fallen to 24,597 units, which is 17.1% lower than 2019’s exports. These kind of drops are expected keeping the current situation in mind. The only thing all of us can do at this point is, follow protocol, maintain hygiene, practice social distancing, and eventually, we will get through this.