Auto: Deals For Wheels
Automakers have lined up new launches and attractive discounts in anticipation of a sales bonanza during the three-month festive season, the numerous headwinds notwithstanding
Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma
Shankar Sinha, a Delhi-based software professional has been eagerly awaiting this year’s festive season. Ever since a jump in his designation and salary following a promotion in April, he has planned a number of important purchases for his household including a car for himself. And what better time to do this than the festive season, considered auspicious in most parts of the country, when consumer goods companies are falling head over heels to woo people with new launches and attractive bargains.
Like Sinha, Indians in large parts of the country tend to schedule their big-ticket purchases ranging from household goods and appliances to vehicles and even homes during the festive season. And while bad economic conditions, as at present, may dampen consumer exuberance and thwart impulsive purchases, they seldom seem to impact sales of cars and two-wheelers as much. Be it Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra, Onam in Kochi, Navaratri and Diwali in north India or Durga Puja in West Bengal, OEMs see a big jump in sales during these festivals as people prefer to take delivery of cars and bikes on auspicious dates.
But the months preceding this year’s festival season has not been good for OEMs. In fact, car sales were negative for the six months ended September. August and September were particularly bad for car sales compared to last year. According to Rajan Wadhera, President, SIAM and President- Automotive Sector, M&M this is because the festive season began in September last year.
“We are very hopeful that sales will be robust in the next few months. The industry looks forward to it as the bulk of the sales do happen during this time. Besides, we are expecting additional growth coming from rural areas. And, if the crude prices start moving down, that would be another good driver of growth. For this fiscal year, we do see positive growth for both bikes and cars,” he says.
Puneet Gupta, Associate Director, IHS Markit, a global information provider, too sees the festive season pushing sales aided by new launches and heavy discounts, as well as more liquidity in the market due to government initiatives. He says OEMs may be forced to hike prices in 2019 owing to multiple regulations. “This should create a rush and we could see another good year for Indian auto industry.”
He, however, cautions that inventory levels have begun rising and any increase in interest rates may dampen sentiment.
Launches & Offers Galore
Headwinds like a depreciating rupee and skyrocketing fuel prices notwithstanding, carmakers and OEMs are looking to make the most of the festive season with offers such as attractive discounts, lower insurance premiums, additional accessories or even assured gifts with every purchase.
Maruti Suzuki, which lords over 50 per cent of the passenger vehicle market, has ramped up the output of its bestselling models such as the Baleno, Swift, Dzire and Vitara Brezza to meet the festive season rush. Additionally, it has also launched the WagonR Limited Edition. R.S. Kalsi, Senior Executive Director (Marketing & Sales), MSIL, “Maruti Suzuki offers myriad choices across segments and in this festive season our retail network brings customised offers across our model range. Adding to the enthusiasm of India’s most anticipated festive season, we are also launching Limited Editions to meet the aspirations of young Indian customers.”
Similarly, India’s second largest carmaker Hyundai Motor India, as part of its Celebrathon campaign to mark its 20th anniversary, is offering various customer benefit schemes on its products and services. Says Puneet Anand, Sr. General Manager & Group Head (Marketing), HMIL, “The festive season will mark the launch of our much-awaited the all new Santro. It will create new milestones in the market, create a new customer base and strengthen the Hyundai product portfolio.”
During the recent launch of the refurbished Tigor, Mayank Pareek, President, Passenger Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors said, “We are looking to outperform the overall market during the festive season. Looking at the footfalls and enquiries we will definitely do better than last year and better than the market. We have already launched three models and maybe in the next few days we will launch more products.”
Honda Cars India too recently launched its all-new 5th generation Honda CR-V, in both petrol and diesel versions. Says Rajesh Goel, Sr. Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Honda Cars India, “We aim to make this festive season very special by rolling out ‘The Great Honda Fest’. We are confident that the new launches will create a lot of excitement at our dealerships and contribute to Honda’s overall sales.”
Volkswagen India, under its Volksfest campaign, is offering customer benefit programmes by way of financing options, insurance, exchange bonuses, after-sales initiatives and more. It has launched a ‘Connect edition’ across its popular carlines — Polo, Ameo and Vento. “We’re extremely positive about the upcoming festive season and shall witness an increased footfall at our 121 dealerships in 104 cities,” says Steffen Knapp, Director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars.
Ford India expects sales to perk up in the second half of the festive season starting October. “I have confidence that in the second half of the festive season, we should be able to get appropriate traction and for that launches like the all-new Aspire will have a big role to play,” Vinay Raina, ED, Marketing and Sales, Ford India, said at the car’s launch. Besides new launches, the company’s strategy for the festive season is to price their cars attractively and not “price it up and offer freebies”.
Adding to the festive fervour, Nissan Motor India has rolled out the special editions of products across both its brands — Nissan and Datsun. While Nissan launched the special edition of its compact sedan, the Sunny, and the sporty edition of Micra, Datsun has come up with the festive edition of the redi-GO. Says Hardeep Singh Brar, Director, Sales & Commercial, Nissan Motor India, “Continuing to enhance the customer buying experience during the festive season, Datsun is offering benefits of up to Rs 52,000 and exchange bonus up to Rs 15,000 on Datsun GO, GO+ and redi-GO.”
While mass market players are busy chasing volumes, luxury carmakers are also keen to bump up sales. Michael Jopp, Vice President, Sales & Marketing Mercedes-Benz India maintains, “We are looking ahead to the festive season. We have only launched the new C-class, one of our volume models. We have a very strong portfolio going into the festive season. So with the new models and SUV portfolio, we and our dealers are geared up to meet increasing demand and typically October is one of the big months. We are quite confident that it will help us close this year on a very high note.”
And what about discounts? “We do not believe in giving discounts but giving value to our customers by offering superior products at a good price and very affordable cost of ownership,” he says.
Two-wheelers Zoom Ahead
The two-wheeler industry, which has been growing in double-digits in the first half of the current fiscal year, expects the festive season to further push its sales.
“Today, macroeconomic enablers and positive customer sentiment is boding well for the festive season. This year, TVS Motor is meeting the festivities with a range of interesting offerings across our wide product range. We kickstarted the season with the launch of a new commuter motorcycle, TVS Radeon, for the progressive Indian male. Further, our 110cc motorcycle, TVS StaR City+ also gets a new variant with synchronized braking technology (SBT) in order to infuse safety with style for our esteemed customers. We are very well prepared to meet the festive season with a strong product portfolio and will support it with a slew of marketing campaigns and dealership branding to maximise the impact,” says Varghese M. Thomas, Vice President & Global Head — Corporate Communication, TVS Motor Company.