No More Test Drives!!
Digitalizing the Automobile Purchasing Experience Post the Lockdown in India
Today, the process of selecting a new vehicle is a lengthy and engaging one in India. It starts with online research through blogs and videos, next are the numerous showroom visits, a few test drives and some may be more than once to be extra sure. Finally, once the automobile and the dealer has been selected and paid for, comes the delivery day with the entire family, as the showroom prepares for the unveiling and send-off of your brand-new vehicle. A new car is considered the newest member of the house, this joyous occasion is celebrated with the entire family and the first stop after taking delivery is to the temple to be blessed by the priest.
Post the Coronavirus lockdown, automobile dealers have been given strict instructions by OEMs on how to go forward in their dealings with customers and vehicle sales in our country. These new rules have been drafted with a view to driving the entire process and experience towards that of a more digital one in an effort to reduce human interaction and abide by the social distancing norms. Hence, get used to the thermal gun upon visiting a showroom and make sure to wear a mask, these are just a few of the basic rules. OEMs have even advised dealers not to keep clients waiting and roaming around the showroom; as a matter of fact, dealers are asked to remove magazines from waiting areas to discourage clients from coming earlier and awaiting their turn. No longer can potential clients stroll into a showroom to inquire about or test drive a car they fancy, they will have to make an appointment before visiting a showroom henceforth.
While many companies like Suzuki have decided to stop offering test drives altogether, other companies like Maruti Suzuki and Tata have decided to provide test drives only in case of a “customer insist” or genuine customers. The rules and regulations set out for test drive vehicle are also rather long and strict; all test-drive vehicles are to be wrapped with protective covering on contact surfaces such as the steering wheel, gear knob and the driver’s seat and all cars have to be sanitized before and after very test drive. Only one family member will be allowed to test drive the car at any given point of time, with the sales representative accompanying you in the rear. Lastly, all auto dealers are to encourage test drive service at home in an effort to reduce the social interaction at the showrooms.
Many Indian families usually take delivery of their vehicle on auspicious days and through an unveiling/send-off ceremony with their entire family at the showroom. Now, however, home delivery of new vehicles will become a norm, as dealers have been asked to encourage the same to reduce social gathering at the shop. The dealers and the customers will be asked to keep all the paperwork ready prior to the delivery date and to reduce social contact by keeping the documentation and filing to emails and online as far as possible.
Having foreseen this predicament, OEMs like Hyundai and Tata have started working towards creating a digital buying experience for all their customers. Hyundai has already launched its program called “click to buy”, an online buying experience which will guide you through every aspect and customization of your new vehicle. Yes, there will be a sales representative virtually guiding you with all your requirements and will also show up with a test drive vehicle at your doorstep. All this to work towards a safer environment for both, the client as well as the employee.
Let me know in the comment section your thoughts on these measures that the OEMs and auto dealers will take, towards a safer tomorrow.