New Delhi | Jagran Auto Desk: In today’s episode of Jagran New Media’s #NayaBharat series, Jagran hiTech’s editor Siddhartha Sharma was joined by the Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Mercedes-Benz India, Santosh Iyer, where the two talked about the challenges the luxury-car industry is facing right now and the plans for the post-Covid-19 period.

Siddhartha Sharma - How has the Covid-19 affected India's luxury car market?

Santosh Iyer - All our operations have been closed since 15 March. Our factory and dealership stores are also closed. Because of this, we achieved zero sales in April. After this, we started production again on 8 May. After this, our dealership stores opened again in the Green and Orange zones from May 18 and started selling. Currently, 60 to 70 percent of our dealership stores are open. Our first priority is to start the delivery of cars which have been booked earlier. At the same time, new sales should also be given speed. In such a situation, this year we are witnessing the decline of double digit. A similar pattern can be seen in the entire automotive industry. If we talk about booking, it is coming in offline along with online, but the important thing is that we are making home delivery of the car due to safety reasons, but a large number of customers are taking delivery only by visiting the store.

Siddhartha Sharma - You talked about double digit decline in India. So what is the automotive industry preparing to do to meet this challenge which can bring the business back on track?

Santosh Iyer - When such a crisis comes, then we have to see that some new products are launched for the customer's excitement. This is the reason why two days ago we have launched two AMG cars and in June we will also launch new cars. During the Auto Expo, we said that we will bring 10 new products this year. Yes, it may be that their launch may be delayed. But we will definitely launch these products. In India, we will also bring electric EQ brand cars. It may be delayed by one to two months. If we talk to the customer, then they are facing cash flow problems. So, like last year, this year we have launched Wishbox 2.0, under which the customer has to pay EMI after three months of car purchase. Apart from this, the customer can buy a car with a small EMI. Then in January 2020 can increase this EMI. Apart from this, we have also launched a 10-year product EMI for customers. In this, the initial 5 years will have to be paid less, while the next 5 years will have to be paid more.

Siddhartha Sharma - Most of your customers are associated with SME and MSME sector. In such a situation, what will you say about the relief package given by the government for MSME and SME?

Santosh Iyer - We hoped that the scheme that the government will bring will generate direct demand. In this, MSME along with consumer will be beneficial, but the government has to lend MSME. This will benefit MSME. But its benefits will not be seen immediately. At the same time, we hope that the government can come up with some more relief scheme.

Siddhartha Sharma - What do you suggest for a new India? What would you like to say to our audience?

Santosh Iyer - According to me, the crisis brings many new opportunities for a country and an institution. Look at countries like Germany and Japan. They have come out better after the crisis than before. At the same time, nationalism will get attention through the self-sufficient India and Made in India scheme of the government. This can prove to be quite beneficial for the country. We all have to contribute as an institution in the campaign of this new India. We will generate more employment in the coming days. If you look at the history, then in the era of the 2004 SARS virus crisis, online businessmen like Alibaba came out of China. This is how something is to be expected from India. Need to say that online business will grow in the coming days. In the last 20 days we have sold 100 cars online. This seems a bit unlikely before the Covid-19, but it is happening easily after the Covid-19. In such a situation, we are seeing new opportunities in online sales. 

Posted By: Talib Khan